Stretching, the component of physical fitness that we all tend to brush under the rug… We all know its super important but believe it or not, most people out there are doing it wrong! How hard can it be? Just take a joint complex / muscle to its end range and hold it right?
For years you have been taught to stretch and yes, it is good for you! Stretching your body will improve flexibility of the joints and muscles, improve circulation, improve your posture, improve your recovery from any musculoskeletal damage, relax muscles and spasms, increase endurance and metabolism, increase balance and coordination, increase the power and elasticity of the muscles, enable the body to perform with less energy, and reduce stress / anxiety. Stretching is so good for you that it is important that you have good technique; you are doing it correctly, and doing it at the right time.
There are many different types of stretching but the most common reason people get it wrong is because they are not doing the correct type of stretch at the correct time. Most people stretch their body as a static stretch, meaning they have a stretch and hold type of technique. A great example would be a sit and reach to stretch the hamstring. While this technique is known for the benefits I stated before, it is not the best stretch you should do before a workout or an activity.
So what is the best stretch prior to activity? You may have heard it before, but its called a dynamic stretch and it should be done prior to an activity. Dynamic stretching is a way of “priming” the body for functional movements that you will be doing. For example, leg swings, high knee walks, spider-man crawls, hip rolling / circumduction’s, arm circles, arm swings, jumping jax are all example of dynamic warm up exercises. Dynamic exercises and stretching (also known as a dynamic warm-up) is designed is more of a movement based system used to prime the nervous system and increase the body temperature so that muscles are ready for activity.
Bottom Line: Using both traditional and static stretches together can help you become a lot more durable and less injury prone. Make sure to utilize dynamic stretching prior to exercises and static or traditional stretching after to aid in muscle recovery.
Do you need more examples of static and dynamic stretches? If so, let me know what you would like to see and I will make a video for them!