Differences Between Static and Dynamic Stretching

Static stretching (a post-workout activity) involves no motion, while dynamic stretching (pre-exercise session) combines stretches with whole body movements. Go through this Buzzle article to know more about the differences between these two methods of stretching.
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Difference between static and dynamic stretching
A Point to Remember
Dynamic stretches are practical movements that mimic your exercise routine. However, if you experience pain during the brief moments of stretching, immediately discontinue the warmup and contact your health care provider.
As we all know, a 5-10 minute warmup is necessary before starting any rigorous exercise routine. A proper warmup helps prepare your body for any physical activity. It prepares your muscles to adapt to the increased workload during exercise. A warmup can be a stand-alone static or dynamic stretching session, or a combination of both. However, many do not know the difference between static and dynamic stretches, and tend to use them interchangeably, which is totally incorrect.

The following Buzzle article elaborates more on the major differences between these two forms of stretching.

Technique
Static stretches (SS) are essentially stationary stretches. As the name suggests, it focuses only on stretching with no involvement of motion. In simple words, this form of stretching does not contribute in any way to the range of motion.
Dynamic stretches (DS) combine stretching with motion; it involves moving the body and slowly increasing the range and speed of movement to bring the muscles to their current range of motion. The dynamic movements put the muscles through their full range of motion, without exceeding the normal anatomical limit.

When and for How Long?
Static stretching is considered a post-exercise routine as it is generally done after a workout. Postures in static stretches are held for around 30 seconds, with emphasis on the stretching activity.
Dynamic stretches are done before the start of your exercise routine. Dynamic stretching is essentially a warmup in motion with little emphasis on the stretching activity. Hence, these postures involve holding the stretch for approximately 1-2 seconds.

Benefits
Post-exercise SS can actually be beneficial as they allow your muscles to relax, and moreover, help to improve their mobility and flexibility. Muscles tend to shorten during exercise. Static stretching―a cooling down activity―allows your muscles to regain their original length, and moreover, alleviates muscle soreness and spasms that are common after exercise.
Dynamic stretching simulates the movements of the activity that you will be performing. This improves blood flow in the muscles, making you more adapt to the workout of your choice. It not only involves whole body movement, but dynamic stretches as well that target muscles required for sports specific activity. For instance, a warmup for running includes leg lifts, leg stretches followed by brisk walking, jogging, and jumping. All this contributes to improving your running performance.

We commonly experience muscle stiffness before starting any workout routine. However, this can be certainly reduced by with a pre-exercise dynamic stretch warmup as it helps loosen up tight muscles. In short, this form of warmup prepares your muscles to withstand the stress and strains of a workout.

Injury Risk
Pre-exercise static stretching, as a sole activity, may have a negative impact on your athletic performance. Studies have also shown that a warmup routine that consists of only static stretches (SS) can reduce maximal muscular performance. Muscle fibers tend to tear slightly when SS are done before exercise. This may weaken the muscles and inhibit performance. So, pre-exercise SS may elevate the chances of injury during a workout.
As dynamic stretches involve gradually increasing the speed and intensity of movements to achieve a full range of motion, there is absolutely no risk of injury. In fact, DS protect your body from damage during exercise. On the whole, dynamic stretching is considered to be ideal for a warmup routine. So, instead of focusing just on static stretching, incorporate DS to your warmups to get the most from your exercise routine.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.
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Published: July 1, 2014
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