Static vs. dynamic stretching

The newest buzz word on the field is dynamic stretching. I have seen many variations of this—some correct, some incorrect. Some people have taken to static stretching, bouncing a little bit and calling it dynamic stretching. Others are just flat out running and skipping and calling that dynamic stretching.

But what is dynamic stretching? Is it better than the static stretching that has been used for so many years?

First let me start by saying that static stretching, where you hold a position for more than 30 seconds in order to elongate the muscle, is still safe. In fact, it should be done AFTER the activity. These types of stretches are designed to target the muscle groups, one at a time and to lengthen them, not necessarily to do anything else. Once you have completed your sport, run, workout, it is good to go through some gentle stretches where you hold a position for 30 seconds or more, stretching a number of different muscle groups.

These stretches at the end of the workout have still been shown to improve your muscle interactions and should be done to maintain range of motion and keep the muscle tissue healthy. Static stretching is exactly what the name implies. Therefore, the end of the activity—when you are ready to slow down and become static and stationary— is the best time to perform those stretches.

Dynamic stretching on the other hand is active stretching, stretching during controlled movements. It is not bouncing or ballistic stretching. Do not take a previously static stretch and turn it into a dynamic stretch by bouncing. Dynamic stretches are different and require movement but controlled movement. Performing dynamic stretching properly can have a significant benefit to your athletic performance.

Dynamic stretching is able to accomplish many things. It is able to increase blood flow, increase the range of motion, increase your awareness of your joint position, and improve your athletic performance. That is why you see everyone from amateur athletes to the NFL and NBA performing it. It has become a necessary part of warm up.  

Dynamic stretches focuses on many different muscle groups at one time. It is thorough movement—your arms and legs can perform different movements and warm up simultaneously. If these are performed correctly, you should still feel a nice stretch but you should also feel your heart rate gently start to rise as the blood flow is beginning to increase to all parts of the body.

Shown in the video are a few dynamic stretches that can get you warmed up for any activity. The video only shows a few options, and depending on your sport there are other, more specific stretches that can be incorporated. The key is to have a slow controlled motion through the range of motion, nothing too fast. The stretches shown in the video are designed to hit the major muscle groups and encompass all sporting activities.  

Dynamic stretching to warm up the arms, back and legs are becoming a ‘must’ prior to competition. Add these in before your next athletic performance and you may wind up with better results.

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.

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