As young kids we were taught to always stretch at the beginning of P.E. class in order to prepare our bodies for the physical activities that were to come next. Although the idea of stretching was not wrong in principle, the type of stretching we were taught was. That’s because there are different forms of stretching, dynamic and static, and proper times to do them in order to increase physical performance.
Dynamic stretching is a term used to refer to stretching done with movements. In other words, it is an active warm-up. Experts recommended beginning all workout sessions and physical activity with dynamic stretching whether you’re running, swimming, lifting weights, competitions, or playing a sport.
The purpose of dynamic stretching is to get the body prepared for physical activity by boosting circulation, activating the central nervous system, and warming up the muscles using light motions. This form of stretching not only increases power and range of motion but has also been proven to boost athletic performance while reducing the risk of injuries.
On the other hand, static stretching is essentially the opposite of dynamic stretching as it requires us to stretch and hold a muscle in place for about 15-30 seconds. So while dynamic stretching emphasizes movement, static stretching does not. Ideally, static stretching is best done after a workout as it helps to wind the body down, relaxes the muscles when they are warm, and improves flexibility.
While static stretching should be done following a workout rather then prior to it, it is still an important part of fitness that should not be overlooked. Static stretching, like dynamic stretching, also helps range of motion and in keeping your body and joints healthy. Some experts recommend incorporating this form of stretching multiple times a week and even as a separate workout, such as yoga, due to its mental and physical benefits.
Dynamic stretching and static stretching are two different forms of activity that have immediate and long term benefits on the muscles and physical performance. Dynamic stretching helps to warm up the muscles using light motions, and in turn, increases athletic performance. Static stretching is a way to relax the muscles and the body following a workout. While dynamic stretching should be done before a workout and static after a workout, they both help keep your muscles and body healthy and injury free. Incorporating both forms of stretching into your routines is highly recommended by experts and beneficial in the long-run whether you are a professional athlete or a beginner in the fitness world.