Improved flexibility remains one of the most important objectives of any fitness routine and regardless of what type of workout you try, the best way to improve flexibility is to stretch.
Stretching is an integral part of every workout. Very often, it is used as a way to warm up before exercise. Stretching before exercise can help reduce the risk of sports-related injury and plays an important role in increasing the range of motion of muscles and joints. And while there are several different methods of stretching, the most commonly used methods remain static and dynamic stretching. Each of these two types of stretching come with their own set of pros and cons. Let’s take a look at each type of stretching and find out situations where it is best to use them.
Static stretching is one of the best forms of stretching. The idea behind this type of stretching is to stretch and bring tension to a relaxed muscle. Also, the tension is maintained by holding the muscles for longer periods of time (up to 30 seconds or more). Some of the most commonly used static stretching exercises include
- Hamstring Stretch
- Shoulder Stretch
- Side Bends
Pros and Cons of Static Stretching
While static stretching is great for increasing the range of motion of muscles and joints, some of the disadvantages associated with static stretching are
- A greater risk of injury when it is performed prior to workout including strength or endurance training.
- Reduced strength when static stretching is done before strength training.
- Reduced impact on long term training when performed before or as part of strength training.
The other type of stretching, known as dynamic stretching is quite different from static stretching. It includes very specific and quick sports like movement that prepare the body for the sports activity ahead. So unlike static stretching, it does not target on creating tension in a specific muscle. Instead, it works on stimulating movement in the parts of body that are most used during a workout or sports activity. Some of the workouts that are used as part of dynamic stretching include
- Arm Circles
- Leg Swings
- Lunge and
- Knee to chest
Pros and Cons of Dynamic Stretching
Dynamic stretching has more advantages compared to static stretching. Dynamic stretching helps
- Increase the range of motion
- Is considered to be a safe warm up prior to workout or sports activity and
- Enhances maximum strength that helps you during sports or workout that is performed after performing dynamic stretching.
However, these advantages come with their own set of disadvantages including
- Lesser muscle strength as very limited muscle tension is created.
- This type of stretching is less effective compared to some other types of stretching such as Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation(PNF).
Static vs. Dynamic Stretching
If you want to increase your range of motion both static and dynamic stretching work well however, both these types of stretching are best in different situations.
Static stretching is best performed within an hour after completing strength or endurance training. As a result, the disadvantages of static stretching are no longer a concern as muscles are better prepared and warmed up after the exercise. Also, if you are planning to do static stretching without strength training, you can do so after warming up your body properly.
On the other hand, dynamic stretching is a very safe and effective method that can be performed before workout. However, for dynamic stretching to be effective, the stretches performed as part of dynamic stretching should closely resemble the activity that you are going to perform following this stretching.
Both static and dynamic stretching are effective in certain situations. And once you are aware of these details, and pros and cons of each type, you can enjoy the benefits of both static and dynamic stretching.