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Stretching - Is It All That Important?

Stretching is a very important component to exercise, not only for flexibility and performance outcomes, but also for the prevention of injury. Have you ever tried stretching without warming up first? Many of us stretch prior to warming up, which is not very beneficial. The benefit of increasing flexibility through stretching comes from a muscle that is warm due to increased circulation.

What is Static Stretching?
Static stretching extends your muscle to the end of its range of motion, while your body is not moving (static). You hold the muscle in that position without pain, for a specific period of time, then repeat 2 to 3 times. Many individuals use static stretching as their main source of stretching, whether it is before, during, or after exercise. Research has shown static stretching improves flexibility of a muscle, is one of the safest techniques in stretching, and is best used after exercise to cool down.

Examples of static stretching:

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Quadriceps Stretch
  • Posterior Capsule Stretch
  • Head Bend
  • Arm and Shoulder Stretch
  • Trunk Rotation

What is Dynamic Stretching?

Dynamic stretching uses movement to move the muscle through its range of motion. Dynamic stretching techniques are functional, and focus on the type of activity an individual participates in. They are also controlled and never vigorous or bouncy at the end of range. This type of stretching is beneficial when used as part of a warm-up routine, prior to exercise.

Examples of static stretching:

  • Walking Lunges
  • Torso Twists
  • Leg Swings

What type of stretching is most beneficial?
Neither one or the other is most beneficial, but what is important to understand is when to use each type of stretching. Research has shown dynamic stretching to be used as part of a warm-up routine, and static stretching to be used after exercise in order to allow for the body to continue cooling down.

If you can incorporate proper stretching techniques, you can prevent injury and consistently benefit from your exercise program or activity!

If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at 310-316-3577 for more information about our medical fitness services.

Written by: Christina Vincze, MS, ATC