When choosing between static and dynamic stretching, it’s safe to say we’re a little biased. Hint: dynamic is a part of our name. All kidding aside, not everyone is aware that there are actually two types of stretching. Even more so, that both types serve different purposes depending on the kind of workout you’re doing. The truth is, podiatrists see a lot of sports-related injuries. Another truth: they can sometimes be prevented with the proper stretching.

What is static stretching?

Static stretching is the kind of stretching you might remember from way back in your early physical education classes. It involves elongating your muscles and holding them in a position anywhere from 15-30 seconds. This can be done in intervals, but the gold standard, according to The American College of Sports, is 3-5 times. Some good examples of static stretching are the classic hamstring stretch (when you reach for your toes while sitting on the floor) or side bends. The purpose of static stretching is to release tension and make the muscles less susceptible to strains or pulls. Note: stretching shouldn’t be painful, but you should be able to feel the stretch in whichever muscle you are extending.

When to use this stretch: You can perform static stretching before an athletic event, but research actually points towards its effectiveness after activity–when your muscles are still “pumped” up. The elgonating can release the post work out tension, soreness, and help with circulation.

What is dynamic stretching?

Dynamic stretching is considered an “active” warm-up. This type of prep stretch involves more movement than elongation. For example, lunges, trunk rotations, leg crossover, or even some classic yoga poses like the plank/cobra. The point of dynamic stretching is to repeatedly move your muscles and joints through full range of motion. This kind of stretching focuses on motion and priming your body for all the action. It also helps with flexibility and reduces the risk of potential injury.

When to use this stretch: Usually before high impact activity or before an athletic event/competition. This is because they help your body prepare for specific movements and give them a proper “we’re about to move” heads up. According to Livestrong, dynamic stretching increases your heart rate and body temperature, which in turn wakes up your brain, sending signals to your muscles to work efficiently.

Regardless of which method you prefer, we highly encourage incorporating stretching into your daily routine–even if you’re just taking a walk. While our bodies are incredibly impressive and adaptable machines, they still need a little preparation. Plus–the more you stretch, the less the risk of winding up in our office with an ankle strain!

Fredericksburg Lorton