Whether you are working or joining yourself Group exercise classes, Most of us know by now that every healthy workout should start and end with active stretching. But, our bodies have different stretches like muscles – and then some! And using dynamic warm-ups and cool-down stretches and figuring out when to do them is crucial to optimizing your warm-ups and cool-downs.
Maybe you’re wondering how to loosen your buttocks before diving into your workout. Or maybe you’re trying to figure out how to alleviate post-workout cramps during your cool-down. For this, we need to lean towards the difference between static vs. dynamic stretching. Dive into it.
Define dynamic and static stretching
Whether you’re starting your fitness journey or a fitness pro, including stretches in your workout routine can help your athletic performance, reduce the risk of injury and improve your flexibility. But what is the difference between dynamic stretch versus static stretch? Let’s explore:
- Dynamic stretch – Dynamic stretches are movements that mimic the tasks you are about to perform during your workout. For example, if you’re doing light jogging somewhere before you start your daily race, you’re actually doing a dynamic stretch. Using these controlled movements will warm up your muscles and prepare you to do your best.
- Static stretch – On the other hand, static stretches are when you move a muscle as far as possible without hurting yourself, then hold that position for a certain length (usually 45 seconds to one minute). Bending down to touch your toes is probably the first stretch they taught in an elementary school gym class, and it’s a static one.
Ideally, your workout would look something like this:
- 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching
- Main Exercises / Activities
- Cool-down of 5-10 minutes so that includes static stretching
Now, let’s push further and learn how to best incorporate these movements into your routine.
Warming up with dynamic stretching
If you want to perform your best during your workout, it is best to start with dynamic stretching vs. static stretching. Numerous studies have shown that dynamic stretching improves athletic performance.1
You can think of stretching your dynamics as a rehearsal for your actual workout.
Prioritizes your body for action through dynamic stretching:
- Increasing blood flow – Good performance raises your muscle temperature Literally Warming you up leads to flexibility and more oxygen for your muscles.
- Sharpen the nerves – Your nervous system sends signals to your muscles to work, so you need to warm it up too. Dynamic stretching helps prepare your brain for the movements you will make during your workout, thus improving response time.
- Decreased firmness – Passive resistance from your muscles and joints can cause injuries during a workout. Dynamic stretching reduces that rigidity and leads to a wider range of motion.
Remember, you don’t want to tire yourself out during your dynamic stretching routine. For best results, repeat each movement 10-12 times and do not do anything that hurts.
Designing your dynamic stretching routine
With dynamic stretching, it is important to focus on the muscles you are going to use during your workout. Think about how swimmers wave their hands before diving into the pool for a race – they are dynamically extending their arms.
That being said, every aspect of your dynamic stretching routine should be prepared for the specific exercise you are going to do. To give you some ideas on how to prime your body for your workout, here are some of our favorite dynamic stretch picks:
- The legs are shaking – Move your legs back and forth like a pendulum, either front-back or side-to-side. This movement engages your buttocks to flex and puck, preparing you to run.
- Walking lungs – Place your hands on your hips, go one step further and lunge. For proper form, align your front knees with your buttocks and ankles and do not let your back knees touch the ground. The walking lungs are a great all-purpose dynamic stretch for any cardio workout or sport.
- Lungs walking with torso twisting – Turning your body along with lunges connects your core and warms your spine. Relaxing your muscles is especially important if you are participating in a sport that requires lifting weights or throwing.
- Squats – Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart and slowly lower yourself into a squatting position. Squats are great for warming up your whole body and are the perfect warm-up for any workout.
- Cat-cow – One of our favorite yoga poses is a dynamic stretch that warms the shoulders and back. Go down around with a flattened back, then lower your head and arch like a cat, and then lift your head and lower your core like a cow. Mooing and mooing are completely optional, but they can help you relax.
You should warm up with static stretch, too?
You may be wondering if your warm-up should include dynamic stretching as well as static stretching. The more stable you are, the better you will perform, right?
Well, that’s not necessarily true.
Static stretching actually relaxes your muscles, which can reduce performance during your workout.2 Just as you don’t throw some smooth jazz to pump you up for a competition, you can’t expect the muscles to perform at their highest level as they cool down from static stretching.
However, some experts recommend incorporating some short static stretches into dynamic stretching warm-ups.3 When held for only 15 seconds or more (as opposed to 60-90 seconds we recommend below), a static stretch in warm-up can help increase your range of motion and flexibility, thus reducing your risk of injury.
Cooling down with static stretching
In contrast to dynamic stretching, which prepares your muscles for action, static stretching should be included as part of a restorative cool-down. As mentioned above, static stretching involves stretching a joint as much as possible without pain, then maintaining that position for 45 to 90 seconds. These movements help your muscles to “reset” in their pre-workout form.
The advantages of static stretching include:
- The pain has subsided – No one wants to feel worse after their practice. Static stretching sends blood and oxygen to your muscles, improves recovery time and reduces painful muscle fatigue.
- Tension is reduced – Sometimes, an intense exercise can make your body feel excited. Taking some time for static stretching gives you the opportunity to unclaim and relax your body.
- Good balance – Since many static stretches involve holding a certain position, you are also working with your balance and equilibrium. This can have a further knock-on effect to improve your posture.
- Improved performance Next time – In the long run, static stretching can help create a range of flexibility and speed, which will make you feel healthier and more fit to cope with your next workout.
Calibrating your cool down
Just as your static stretching warm-up focuses on awakening the muscles used in your workout, your cool-down should be designed to relax those same muscles. Static stretching is a great time to focus on your breathing, lower your heart rate and focus on yourself mentally.
Some of our favorite static stretches include:
- Slipper stretch – It is also known as a shoulder extension or a posterior capsule extension. Bring one hand across your chest and use your other hand to gently pull towards your body. It’s a great stretch after lifting weights or playing like basketball.
- Stretch the hamstrings – Place one foot in front of the ankle (you can use a lower stool or step to help). Then, bend forward from your hips until you feel your thighs stretch. If you stretch this after the race, your legs will thank you.
- Quadriceps stretch – When standing, hold your ankle with one hand and pull your heel towards your buttocks. Remember to keep your back straight and your core tight. This is another good stretch after any workout below the body.
- The core extends – Lay your face down, then push your shoulders and chest away from the floor. This stretch is commonly known as cobra pose in yoga and it is a great way to stretch your abdomen.
Static stretching: Not just after a workout
Sometimes, your body only calls for a good stretch. Even if you don’t just finish a workout, there are times in the day when a series of static stretching can improve your overall health and well-being, such as:
- After the meeting, if you are stuck behind a desk all day
- Follow a long car ride
- Before going to sleep
Stretching your muscles during the day, especially if you are too busy to put pressure on a complete workout, can be important for a person’s long-term health and mobility.
The final thought on the stretch
There is a reason to include stretching in most athletic training sessions. Some of the benefits of stretching include injury prevention, increased muscle performance, improved ability to perform any physical activity, and reduced muscle tension. So don’t underestimate the power to stretch.
Warm-up and cool-down in Choose Fitness
We hope this article answers your big question about dynamic stretching vs. static stretching. But if you’re still wondering how to work out these stretches in your specific workout plan, your local Choice Fitness friendly team is here to help.
At Choose Fitness, we love to support people in our fitness community – both on and off the floor. Our team is en-chuze-iastic About sharing knowledge to help everyone do their best. We have different facilities in different states, so you can find a “choice” Jim near me“We even have one Playlist You can listen to inspirational listening.
Not that one Stretched For us Choose fitnessIt’s just what we do.
Annie Choose is vice president of fitness at Fitness and oversees the group fitness and team training departments. He had a 25+ year career in club management, personal training, group exercises and coach training. Annie lives in San Diego, CA with her husband and son, and enjoys hot yoga, snowboarding and everything.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Four-week dynamic stretching warm-up interventions yield long-term performance benefits. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/fulltext/2008/07000/four_week_dynamic_stretching_warm_up_intervention.36.aspx
- European Journal of Applied Physiology. The effects of different periods of static stretching in a comprehensive warm-up on voluntary and emerging compression properties. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29721606/
- Frontiers in Physiology. Intense effects of static stretching on muscle strength and power: An attempt to clear the previous precautions. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2019.01468/full