Stretching is an activity that is often performed by individuals that participate in an exercise routine, athletics, or just want to feel loose and limber. Stretching has many benefits, however, did you know that there are different types of stretching routines? Two of the most common variations are static and dynamic stretching. Both types have their benefits, but there is also an appropriate time and place to perform them. You may want to read this before your next run, workout, or a pick-up game of basketball.
Static stretching is a type of stretch that is performed when you take a muscle to the point of feeling a comfortable amount of tension and typically hold it for about 30-60 seconds. This is a great way to improve muscle length, flexibility, and range of motion. Static stretching was commonly used as a warm-up for athletic activity for many years, however, research has shown that there may actually be negative side effects to static stretching before activity. It can actually decrease power and force output during exercise and athletic activity. Static stretching is still a very beneficial part of any exercise routine and can be used as a cool-down to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness following activity.
Bending over and touching your toes to stretch the hamstrings
Reaching your arm across your body to stretch your shoulder
Kneeling hip flexor stretch
Dynamic stretching recently has become the warm-up of choice for individuals prior to athletic activity and exercise. Dynamic stretching uses slow controlled movements through a full range of motion that prepares the body for the activity that is about to be performed. These movements are typically repeated about 10 times. These stretches are more functional and can be more sport-specific. Dynamic stretching can help improve blood flow, reduce muscular tension, and increase heart rate prior to the activity. Since these stretches mimic the movements of the activity that is about to be performed, there can also be functional carryover resulting in improved coordination and muscular force output during activity.
Walking toe touches
In summary, both static and dynamic stretching is beneficial and should be a part of everyone’s exercise routine. Dynamic stretches are best performed prior to activity and static stretches are best performed following activity. A 5-10 minute warm-up and cool-down involving stretching are important for maintaining and improving mobility, reducing risk for injury, and improving overall function and performance.
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