We currently live in a time where many of us are sitting. It may be because we start our day with a long commute in our car, then work from a desk, and finish our evenings on the couch, relaxing. We may begin to feel pain in our lower back, tension around the shoulders, and realize WE ARE STIFF! This stiffness over time can lead to subsequent injuries. So what do we do…? We need to stretch! Stretching should become a part of our daily routines because it helps our bodies move better, feel freer, and reduce tension through lengthening the muscles. There are different types of stretches, today, discussing both static and dynamic and how it relates to pre and post-movement sessions. As we begin to incorporate more movement throughout the day, we will want to know when to use each to better suit our needs.
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN…
Static stretches (SS) are frequently used because they are deemed easy and safe to perform. Place the muscles in an elongated position, holding at the end-range for approximately 15-30sec. This causes an increase in the muscle’s elasticity, creating new tissue length.
Ex. Seated hamstring stretch and holding the position for 30 seconds.
Ex. Drawing our ear to our shoulder with our arm, and holding for 30 seconds to feel a release in the neck (scalene muscles).
Dynamic stretches (DS) are active, often mimicking similar movement patterns to be performed that day and are used to improve mobility through a range of motion.
Ex. Walking and hugging your knee to your chest to prepare for running.
Ex. Shoulder circles to help use your arms better (like washing your hair) and relax the surrounding tissue.
WHEN DO WE USE IT?
Not too long ago, SS was what we did before an exercise, never realizing we were hindering our muscle’s ability to maximize its force production, reducing power output. And who wants less power before a workout?! NOT ME! Research has suggested it can be detrimental to perform SS immediately preceding an activity requiring high power output- exercises like the vertical jump, sprinting, playing soccer, or powerlifting, just to name a few, due to a phenomenon called “Stretch Induced Strength Loss.” This is when the muscle loses its strength because it has been stretched and held over some time. Therefore, we know we do not want to solely perform SS before a work-out because it reduces our strength.
Then, it was suggested we only perform SS post-workout for “cooling down.” Whereas, DS to be best used before a workout session to “warm-up”. Not only has DS been shown to improve balance and coordination, prepare your body to move more efficiently, but it has also been shown to increase performance in strength, sprinting, and the vertical jump.
Now, what would happen if we combined SS and DS, respectively? According to The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, “warm-up exercises performed together with SS abolished the impairment in medicine ball throwing distance. We recommend that athletes perform warm-up exercises together with SS before the activity to avoid detrimental effects on muscle strength.”This is because if we begin with a SS, we will create a more permanent gain in range-of-motion, which allows more movement at a joint. Then, adding a DS routine will allow time for the muscles to regain their power while preparing the body to safely perform the movement for that day, reducing the risk of injury.
HOW DO WE DO IT?
Everyone’s needs are different, and DS sequences will vary from person to person. To ensure safety, initially, it is recommended to receive some training and education such as meeting with a Licensed Physical Therapist.
At Chainwork Physio, we will be able to address your individual needs to ensure you are performing each movement correctly, safely, and in line with your goals. Remember, the needs of a weight lifter will be considerably different than a basketball player, sprinter, or newcomer into the fitness world. Our therapists are well-trained in functional movement and stay up to date on current literature. We look forward to hearing from you so we can better meet your needs.
We have provided an example of a dynamic stretch sequence. Please feel free to join along.
Disclaimer You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs.
- The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2015 – Volume 29 – Issue 5 – p 1393-1398 Stretch-Induced Reductions in Throwing Performance Are Attenuated by Warm-up Before Exercise doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000752
- Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Feb; 7(1): 109–119. CURRENT CONCEPTS IN MUSCLE STRETCHING FOR EXERCISE AND REHABILITATION