We all know that stretching is an important part of improving flexibility and maintaining overall health. However, in recent years there has been a lot of confusion on whether static or dynamic stretching is best.
When we typically think of stretching, we imagine holding a pose and feeling a stretch in a muscle group for a minimum period of time, typically 15-20 seconds. This is called static stretching, and research has shown that this type of stretching can increase flexibility and range of motion. However, more recent studies have suggested that static stretching can temporarily decrease the force output of a muscle right afterwards and can lead to an increased risk of injury, therefore it should not be used as a warm up prior to vigorous activity.
Dynamic stretching is a more functionally oriented stretch that has the body actively move through full range of motion without holding the stretch. Instead, the movement is repeated several times and is usually sport specific. This type of exercise allows the body to warm up and increase blood flow to the area being stretched, and “primes” the muscle for maximal power output.
So which type of stretching should we do, static or dynamic? The answer is a little more complex, as it depends on the timing of the stretch. For a pre-activity, we suggest a dynamic stretch to help warm the area up and prepare the muscles for movement. For post activity, a static stretch can help prevent your muscles from tightening up.
At Peak Form Physiotherapy, our team of physiotherapists can help navigate your pre and post-workout routine and determine the best way to stretch out those tight and sore muscles. Contact us today to make an appointment with one of our therapists!