Dynamic vs. Static Stretching - What's the Difference?

There is a lot of debate about stretching.  Some swear by it in order to loosen up before their workout or to prevent injury and soreness.  Others fail to see the benefit and bypass it entirely.  The fact is that, while stretching can seem a miniscule part of a fitness routine, its benefits are well documented, and they apply to both athletes and people who lead more sedentary lifestyles. People who regularly stretch, as part of a more complete fitness routine, can expect long-term gains in not only range of motion but also endurance, power and strength.

There are two main categories when it comes to stretching and both offer their own, unique benefits:

What is Dynamic Stretching?

Dynamic stretching refers to stretching that incorporates movement. It increases blood flow and muscle temperature slowly, so it’s ideal to use as part of a warm-up for any type of cardio or strength workout. Many dynamic stretches are sports-specific – so, for example, a tennis player might warm up with lunging and squatting, and a martial artist might warm up with slow kicking or punching. These stretches imitate movements that take place in more powerful, explosive ways during an actual workout, so they are crucial for preparing the body and preventing injury.

Dynamic stretching is all about controlled movement. People performing it should feel a mild to medium stretch in the joints and muscles that are moving, but the movements should be slow and controlled, running through as full a range of motion as possible.

Upper-body dynamic stretches include wrist and arm circles, internal and external shoulder rotations and wrist flexions and extensions. Dynamic stretches for the lower body include squats, lunges, leg swings and toe touches.

What is Static Stretching?

Static stretching refers to holding still movements or poses for a set period of time in an effort to improve your body’s range of motion. Static stretching is not ideal for “cold” muscles, so it’s better to do it as part of a cool-down or after a warm-up and before a main workout.

To work for increased range of motion and injury prevention, static stretching should NEVER be painful. Instead, it should help release tension and calm the mind as well as the body. Stretch until the pose feels challenging, then hold the stretch for about 30 seconds.

Upper-body static stretches include shoulder and triceps extensions, and lower-body static stretches include hamstring and calf stretches, quad stretches and the “butterfly” pose.

It’s worthwhile to schedule an appointment with your physician before beginning any stretching routine, especially for people who have strained muscles, tendinitis or existing injuries.  A chiropractor is uniquely qualified to help determine which form of stretching should be used and when in order to both prevent injury to the muscles and soft tissue, as well as to improve range of motion.  When combined with a regular routine of care, stretching can be one of the body’s best defenses to maintaining proper function.

If you are considering chiropractic care or are searching for a physician who can help get and keep you in the best possible shape, contact SouthEast Chiropractic: The Motion Centers.  With offices in both Gastonia and Belmont, we have a convenient location and skilled chiropractic team near you.  Simply click below to request your appointment.