It’s a common enough question, asked by people who are interested in improving their health and flexibility. Both types of stretching are important, but of equal importance is knowing when to use them. This short piece will outline the best uses for both types of stretching.
Static stretching is done from a standing or sitting position. When you see people bending to stretch their hamstrings and holding the position for thirty seconds or so, they’re engaging in static stretching.
Unfortunately, most people use this before a workout, which is not the optimal time to use this form of stretching. Studies have shown that pre-workout static stretching will actually reduce your workout performance for about ten minutes after the stretching routine is completed.
Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, is ideal to use before a workout. The key differences are twofold:
First, dynamic stretching is so-named because it involves some element of motion. Second, whereas static stretches require holding positions for extended periods, dynamic stretches tend to be done in short-duration series.
There’s a catch, though. In order to get the full benefit, you need to tailor your dynamic stretch to the type of exercise you plan on doing. For example, if you’re planning to go for a run, you’ll want to warm up by doing a short jog to loosen the muscles you’ll be using the most and getting them prepped for the trial ahead.
The best time to employ static stretching is after your workout is complete. The reason is that if your workout is a strenuous one, your muscles are likely to be sore. Doing a few static stretches of those muscle groups will help ease any post-exercise pain you might otherwise feel. That’s not to say your muscles won’t still hurt (if you’re doing it right, they probably will!) The pain just won’t be as severe or as long lasting.
And now you know – you’re a stretching pro!