If you ever attended a health or PE class, played a sport, or picked up an aerobics class, you probably understand the importance of stretching. Stretching before you work out ensures that your muscles are loose and warmed up, which can improve your performance and help prevent injury. Stretching after exercise can also help you cool down and prevent some of the post-workout soreness, explains Scott Zack Michigan chiropractor.
Stretching is also a way to relieve stress and relax your muscles when you’re dealing with back, neck, shoulder, or other muscle pain. But did you know that there are different types of stretching and that each comes with its own benefits? Let’s go over the situations in which each type of stretching is most effective and how you can reduce your muscle pain and fatigue.
Static stretching is what most of us think of when we talk about stretching, says Scott Zack Michigan chiropractor. Static stretching is moving your joint as far as it will go and then holding that position, usually for 30 to 90 seconds. So when you see a runner holding their leg or a ballerina practicing the splits, that’s static stretching.
Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, is accomplished by actively moving your muscles and joints in specific motions for 10 to 12 repetitions. This targets certain muscle groups and stretches them all together. This kind of stretching mimics the activity or movement you’re about to engage in. This helps your body rehearse the patterns of movement you’ll be using, which stimulates the muscles earlier and faster, improving coordination and performance.
Over time, static stretching has started to fall out of favor as a warm-up routine for athletes because all the research says that it can actually have detrimental side effects like reduction in power and performance. Scott Zack Michigan says this is because the muscles aren’t being warmed up with static stretching, just your joints.
Static stretching is more for relaxation than performance. He recommends you use it to cool down after a workout rather than to warm-up before.
So to sum it up, says Scott Zack Michigan chiropractor, static stretching is best for cool-downs, relaxation, and improving range of motion in your joints. Dynamic stretching is best for flexibility, increased strength, and warming up before intense exercise.