Stretching is an important part of our workout routine, but often the part we skip in favor of exercises we feel provide us with more benefit - exercises that make us feel sweaty and tired.
However stretching is essential if you want to move better, feel better, prevent injury and even get in a better workout! However, it is important to note that all stretches are not the same.
You may have heard that there is a difference between Dynamic and Static stretches but never really known what the difference is or when to use them. First, let’s go over the difference and then breakdown when it is best to use them both!
What is the difference between Dynamic and Static Stretching?
Dynamic Stretching involves movement. You are moving a joint through a range of motion as you stretch your muscles. This warms the body up as you not only work on flexibility but also joint mobility.
For instance, you could do a lunge to hamstring stretch. Sink into a low lunge with your hands touching the ground on either side of your front foot. Reach your hands overhead as you stay in the low lunge. Then lower your hands back down. As your hands touch the ground, straighten your front leg as you hang over. Then sink back down into the lunge and repeat, reaching overhead.
Static Stretches are stretches that you hold and relax and breath into, often even trying to stretch further as you relax and hold.
One common Static Stretch is the seated hamstring stretch where you reach for your toes with your legs out straight in front of you.
Although both stretches are very beneficial, they should be used at different times to maximize effectiveness.
When to use Dynamic vs. Static Stretches
Dynamic stretches, unlike static stretching, are perfect to do before a workout. They help you restore proper joint mobility and get your blood pumping as you loosen up tight muscles. They are priming your body for movement.
Maybe you aren’t currently warming up, but you’ve noticed a round or two into your workout that you can get deeper in your squat. If you’d started your workout with a proper warm up and a Dynamic Squat Stretch, you may have been able to get deeper in your squat that very first round!
By using dynamic stretches prior to your workouts, your body is primed to work hard from the very first rep! And unlike static stretching, they can actually improve your performance instead of negatively impacting your strength.
A proper warm up with dynamic stretching can also prevent injury because you are preparing your body to handle a load and warming up through a range of motion to help prevent compensations, imbalances and overuse. A 2008 study found that a proper dynamic warm up decreased overall injury risk by 35% and serious injuries by almost half!
But just because static stretching isn't good to use BEFORE you workout, doesn’t mean it doesn’t play an important part in preventing injury and improving your mobility and flexibility. Static stretching can actually play a key role in your program and aid in your recovery!
Static stretches relax muscles, improve flexibility and even relax our central nervous system. This can also help keep our body healthy and happy so we can go hard during our next workout. The key is just to use each type of stretching in the proper way to help you get the best results possible.
If you sit a lot and tend to have lower back issues, a nice static stretch to recover and loosen everything up may be the star stretch. It will loosen up your low back and work on spinal mobility so you’re ready for your next workout!
Whether you love stretching or hate it, stretching before and after a workout is essential to get the most out of your workouts while improving mobility and flexibility.
Check out these videos for Dynamic and Static Stretches to include in your workout routines!
25 Static Stretches
21 Dynamic Stretches
Cori is the owner of Redefining Strength, a functional training facility in Orange County, California focused on helping each client find their strong. She started training and writing a fitness blog in 2011 because she wanted to empower people through diet and exercise so that they can lead healthier, happier lives.