A woman stretching after carrying out her daily exercise

Static and dynamic stretches: why and how to use them


If you are looking to further increase your knowledge on stretching and its benefits across a sport, health and fitness then you need to know about both static stretches and their dynamic counterparts.

A woman stretching after carrying out her daily exercise

You may well be aware of the significance of warming up before exercise and cooling down post-session, but far too often these vital elements are overlooked and are very much underappreciated. When this occurs, it opens the door to a much higher risk of injury, and this applies to all levels, from the complete beginner right through to the professional sportsperson.

Being into exercise ourselves, we know what it’s like when you are super-excited for a workout or sporting activity, and you skip the warm up and jump straight into your chosen sport. However, by not allowing your body an allotted period of time in order to prepare for what’s to come, it can be detrimental – as we mentioned earlier – and actually cause setbacks if you find yourself getting injured. Everyone, and we mean everyone, needs to give their muscles the opportunity to warm up beforehand. This also applies to the time closely following a session or sport. It’s just as important to give yourself a proper cool down and let your body return to normal. This is when you need to know about the benefits of dynamic and static stretches.

Explaining the dynamic stretch

The dynamic stretch is the kind of stretch that should be performed when preparing your cold muscles for exercise, and anyone who is going through runners knee recovery will know the significance. To explain this a little further, dynamic stretches include continuous movements through a full range of motion. By performing the dynamic stretch, you are allowing for an improvement in flexibility as well as creating heat through the joints and muscles by carrying out these isolated motions. You are also kick starting the calorie burning process by increasing your heart rate, while loosening muscles. Once your exercises are complete, you will be so you’re ready to get stuck into things with reduced risks of pulling or tearing a muscle.

Here are some warm ups using dynamic stretches you can perform:

  • Easy swing kicks
  • Arm swings
  • Walking lunges
  • High knee marches

 

Explaining the static stretch

After a vigorous session, you should allow your body a period of time to get down to its resting heartrate, or a close to it as possible. While this is taking place, you can combine it with some static stretches. The static stretch is the most well-known and widely-used stretch of the two and involves holding a stretched muscle for 15 to 30 seconds at any one time. The purpose of a static stretch is to prevent the muscle from tightening after strenuous movements. You want to extend the muscle until you feel a sensation, but if you are feeling any pain they you should ease off the stretch until the feeling subsides. By holding the static stretch for longer periods (30-45 seconds) you are helping to improve flexibility and reducing the occurrence of injury and cramp.

Give these static stretches as part of your cool down:

  • Hamstring stretch: kick one heel forward, point your toes toward the ceiling and bend over, reaching toward your foot gradually.
  • Hip stretch: cross one ankle over the opposite knee to make a figure four, then carefully lower into a squat.
  • Quad stretch: bend your knee and kick one foot up toward your posterior, then hold with the same side hand.


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