Which type of stretching should you use?
You have probably heard mixed reviews on whether stretching is good or bad for you and if you should be doing static or dynamic stretching. This article will help clear up a few of the discrepancies.
A static stretch involves stretching the muscle to a point where you feel a slight discomfort but not pain. The stretch and your position are held without any movement for about 30-45 seconds. When done correctly, static stretches are relatively safe and can improve your flexibility. One example is a seated hamstring stretch, shown above.
Instead of holding a stretch, dynamic stretching is where you repeatedly move the joints and muscles through full range of motion. These also help to improve your flexibility and reduce the risk of injury. The movements are meant to mimic the movements that the joints and muscles go through in your specific sport or physical activity. Examples include air squats, walking lunges, butt kicks, and high knees.
When to use which type of stretching:
The type of stretching you do can affect your performance. Multiple studies have shown that static stretching performed immediately prior to an athletic event or strenuous activity can reduce your strength and power. Static stretches are most effective after an activity, when the muscles are still warm. Dynamic stretches are most effective before an activity or event because they can help prepare the body for the sport specific movements. They also wake up the nervous system, which can help the brain communicate with your muscles.
Tips and Considerations:
- Avoid static stretching if the muscles are cold.
- Perform a short warm-up to get the blood flowing to the muscles before an athletic event or activity.
- Avoid quick bouncing, or jerking movements during static stretches as this can result in muscle tears.
- Stretching should never be painful.
If you have questions about stretching and its effect on your performance, call us at (310) 540-5758.