To stretch or not to stretch? That is the question.
It's Saturday and you are ready for that run, soccer game, basketball game, flag football game or whatever event has you lacing up those new shoes.
You arrive 30 minutes before “go” time and you are standing at your event thinking, “Maybe I should stretch -- that guy over there is doing it -- but what stretches should I do?”
As you're probably already aware, stretching is a great way to both start and end your next workout or sporting activity. But selecting the right stretches is just as important as stretching in the first place.
There are several different ways to stretch, but dynamic and static stretching are the two most discussed. So what are the differences and what is the best option for you? Let’s check them out:
Dynamic stretching involves performing functional movement patterns that simulate multi-joint movements typically performed during a sport activity. In other words, dynamic stretching involves actively moving more than one part of the body at the same time.
These movements usually involve a careful and progressive increase in range of motion and speed of movement. Dynamic stretching has been shown to increase balance, reaction time, agility and strength/power. It also has the benefits of slowly increasing heart rate and circulation to different muscles.
All of these benefits show us dynamic stretching should be performed PRIOR to any athletic event and include but are not limited to:
Static stretching involves performing a stretch of a sustained amount of time (20-30 seconds) when the muscle is in its end range position. When people talk about stretching, static is what typically comes to most people’s minds.
The main goal of static stretching is to target a specific muscle, rather than a group of muscles as with dynamic stretching, elongating/lengthening that one specific muscle.
Research has shown static stretching can decrease muscle strength for up to 60 minutes after being performed. Therefore the potential maximum benefits received from static stretching can actually be seen AFTER exercising rather than before. Performing static stretches after exercising helps maintain the lengthen muscle position and helps promote increased flexibility.
No matter if you are performing a dynamic or static stretch, position and correct form are extremely important in order to receive maximum benefits.
If you have questions on whether you are performing your stretches correctly please seek advice from a trained medical professional such as an Athletic Trainer, Physical Therapist or Physical Therapist Assistant.
Karen graduated from Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio with a Bachelor’s Degree in Athletic Training in 1998. She practiced in the high school setting for roughly 13 years before receiving her Associate’s Degree as an Physical Therapist Assistant from Kent State University. Karen now assists in treating patients at our NovaCare Rehabilitation clinic in Crestview Hills, KY. (559 Centre View Boulevard, Crestview Hills, KY 41017. 859-341-6654)