There are many different types of stretching: static, dynamic, ballistic, neuromuscular … the list goes on and on. With so many options, how are we supposed to know which is the best option for us? One thing that we can all agree on is that a lack of flexibility is a contributing factor to gradual-onset injuries that affect many people. In this blog, I will be going over the two most common stretching techniques: static and dynamic.
Static stretching refers to holding a stretch in the same position for a period of time. This type of stretching has been around for decades and was known as the gold standard before athletic activities. Static stretching elongates and relaxes your muscles as well as decreases blood flow to the muscles. On the other hand, dynamic stretching is performing an active stretch with movement, such as leg swings, walking lunges, or trunk twists. Dynamic stretching boosts blood flow to the muscles, and enhances strength, power and range of motion.
There is no concrete evidence as to which is best for preventing activity related injury. However, research has been shifting towards supporting a dynamic warm up prior to activity such as a race, lifting or sport followed by static stretching after the activity. The most important factor in determining which type of stretching is best for you is to understand the purpose of each stretch and what is happening in the body. Chronic tightness can not only lead to injury but also muscle imbalance, overuse and pain, so make it a point to incorporate some stretching into your exercise routine!