Today we are going to be talking about is stretching important.
This is something you should not skip out on, despite feeling like it’s pointless.
Yes, we are talking about stretching.
While warming up before your workout doesn’t feel like it’s very important.
It is vital to improving your performance and keeping you safe from injury.
The main goal of warming up/stretching is to get your body primed and ready for the workout to come.
Whether you’re a professional bodybuilder or everyday gym goer, warming up is crucial.
Now if you’re like I used to be, you don’t take stretching too seriously.
You might do a quick quad stretch swing your arms back and forth and then you think you’re good to go.
But not so fast, if you don’t stretch properly you will be hindering your performance.
Now here’s the thing, we have been told that stretching improves our range of motion and flexibility and reduces the risk of injury.
But the evidence around stretching isn’t that simple and there are actually two types of stretching techniques that you need to be aware of.
Today we will be talking about Static stretching and Dynamic stretching and when you should use either.
So this way you’ll know if stretching is important.
What is Static Stretching?
Static stretching is where it all began.
Everyone has done static stretching in their time and you probably did it a lot in high school or still do it today.
Static stretching is extending a muscle and holding it anywhere between 15 to 30 seconds.
Then you’d repeat it 2 – 4 times to reach about the 60 second mark.
A perfect example is stretching your quads.
This is where you would stand tall, lift up one leg and bend your knee and bring your foot to your butt to stretch the quad hold that position for 15 – 30 seconds.
The goal of static stretching is to help release tension in your muscles. This will help increase the length and flexibility of the muscle and potentially reduce the risk of pulls or strains.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretching basically does the same thing. It still aims to boost your range of motion and flexibility to help you prepare for your workout.
Now here’s the difference with dynamic stretching, you don’t hold the stretch in one place for 15 – 30 seconds.
The goal of dynamic stretching is to get the body moving. Dynamic stretching is more focused on “active stretching”.
This means taking the joints and the muscles through the full range of motion.
It starts in a shortened position and then all the way into the full lengthened position.
So just think “static” means no movement with the stretch and dynamic means moving through the full range of motion to get a stretch.
When should we do each?
So we were always told that we should be doing the static stretching before our workouts/ exercise and that’s what you’d see everyone else doing.
Standing around holding the static stretch and then when everything feels good you’d get into your exercise.
BUT research has shown that static stretching before an exercise has proven to negatively impact performance and reduce muscle strength.
So while these stretches do improve your flexibility and range of motion, they’re not going to assist you in pushing yourself in the gym.
Dynamic stretching, just like static stretching, improves flexibility and range of motion, but it may also boost performance as well.
There is a lot of research showing that dynamic stretches before a workout can BOOST your performance and have a better/ safer workout.
So the recommendation here is to focus on dynamic stretching before your workout.
This will help take your muscles through the full range of motion and to tap into your power potential.
Ideally you want to focus on taking your whole body through a dynamic stretch routine before your workout and not just the muscles you “think” you’re going to use.
This is because the body doesn’t work in isolation and all muscles work together.
Which means to get the best return on investment from dynamic stretching, using a whole body approach will be best.
Once you finish your workout, this would be a better time to focus on static stretching.
Static stretching will help you recover from your workout but relieving stress and tension from your muscles.
So as you can see both types of stretching do serve a purpose and can help with your performance in the gym and with recovering.
You just need to make sure you use the right stretches before and after to get the best bang for your buck and reduce injury.