Benefits of Dynamic & Static Stretching
Written by: Lindsay Cartwright, BSc(KIN)
Stretching is one area of exercise that is extremely underestimated. It tends to be skipped and forgotten about, but is very important! Stretching helps to increase circulation to the muscle that is being stretched. Regular stretching increases flexibility and range of motion. The act of stretching can also be very relaxing and it feels great! There is some controversy over whether or not stretching before a work out or intense exercise prevents injury, but as you can see it is beneficial for many other reasons!
So, now you know why you should stretch, but HOW should you stretch?
Start exercise with dynamic stretching before you exercise. This means your body should be moving and lightly stretching. This can also act as part of your warm up, to get your heart rate up and blood flowing before you start to exercise. It is important to do dynamic stretching before exercise, rather than static because it allows our muscles to ease into it and warm up instead of resisting against the pull and spasming- which does more damage than good. If you have a specific muscle that you have pulled before or feels extra tight, you might want to do static stretching before your activity but AFTER your dynamic warmup.
Examples of dynamic stretching: butt kicks, high knees, arm circles, walking lunges.
Youtube has some great examples of 5 minute warm-ups that include dynamic stretching. Here is an example of one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCzecFateXc
Static stretching is more beneficial when done after exercising. This means you can sit or stand still while you hold a stretch for about 20-30 seconds. It is during these stretches that it is important to increase the circulation to the tired muscles and release any tension that may have built up. Stretching should not be painful or done too intensely that you are holding your breath.
Examples of static stretches: hold your foot so your knee is bent and your heel is touching your backside to stretch your quads, touching your toes to stretch hamstrings, holding one arm across your body with a straight elbow for the back of your shoulder.
Stretching and flexibility is often overlooked but is important to include into your routine to ensure overall physical fitness. Take a few minutes before and after exercising to enjoy the benefits stretching can provide.
Tip: focus on the muscles you are using during your exercise/ work out as well as ones that are sore or particularly tight. You don’t need to stretch your whole body every day.