Over the past decade or so, there has been quite a shift on how stretching is viewed, how we do it, and when we do it. No matter which way you do it, stretching is important for our overall flexibility which directly affects how we are able to move our joints and body as a whole!
In general, stretching and working on flexibility can do a bunch of things for us:
Improve circulation → this can help our muscles repair and recover after injury or a hard workout
Reduce feelings of muscle tension and pain
Decrease risk of injury
Improve reaction time and power for athletics
Static stretching is what most of us think of when we think of stretching.
Whether dynamic stretching is better than static stretching or vice versa depends on the specific context and goals of your physical activity. Here are some considerations:
Dynamic stretching is generally more effective as a warm-up technique. It helps increase blood flow, body temperature, and heart rate, preparing the muscles and joints for activity.
Dynamic stretches activate the nervous system, improve mobility, and enhance the range of motion specific to the movements you'll be performing during exercise or sports. It can be particularly beneficial for activities that require power, agility, and quick movements.
Static stretching is more effective for increasing flexibility. Holding a static stretch for a prolonged period helps lengthen and relax the muscles, promoting improved flexibility over time. It can be useful for activities that require a wider range of motion, such as dance or gymnastics. However, static stretching should be done after exercise or physical activity, as it may temporarily reduce muscle strength and power if performed before intense activities.
Both dynamic and static stretching can play a role in injury prevention, but their mechanisms differ. Dynamic stretching helps activate and warm up the muscles, which can reduce the risk of muscle strains or tears. Static stretching, when done consistently, can improve muscle flexibility and joint range of motion, potentially reducing the risk of muscle imbalances and overuse injuries.
The choice between dynamic and static stretching may also depend on the sport or activity you're engaging in. For activities that involve explosive movements, such as sprinting or jumping, dynamic stretching is often preferred as it helps to prepare the muscles for quick and powerful contractions. For activities that require a higher degree of flexibility, such as yoga or martial arts, static stretching may be more beneficial.