Static vs Dynamic Stretching:
Stretching is often a topic of discussion during or after someone's treatment. There is usually a reason people seek out massage therapy and it is often injury or tension based issues that we are resolving. The right type of stretching techniques done effectively and at the right times are ideal for avoiding injuries and repetitive strains and bring balance back to a compromised area.
What is Static Stretching?
Static stretching is performed while the body is at rest, by moving to a point of tension and holding that position of stretch for seconds to a few minutes. Static stretches are used to improve flexibility and cool your body down after you exercise by gently returning muscles to a lengthened and healthy state.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
This type of stretching improves dynamic flexibility and is done by performing sport-specific movements that will mimic those to be made during exercise. As such, they are usually used to prepare for athletic events. The actively controlled movements gently take you within your range of motion and warm that area up for more rigorous activity.
When should I do which type of Stretching?
- Dynamic Stretches before activity
- Static Stretches after activity and as daily or occasional focus in a needed area
Static Stretching Useful Guidelines:
- Always ensure that you are stretching warm muscles. This can be from activity, heat inducing methods (ie, after or during a hot both, shower, sauna, heat pad on area to be stretched, or post dynamic stretching). The body responds more quickly and readily to lengthening an area that has good blood flow and is warm.
- Get down into the position for the stretch slowly and stop when you feel a light to moderate pull/warmth. You should never feel uncomfortable or in pain. This means it is too far for what your muscle is prepared to handle at that time so back off and stop when it feel like a "good" lengthening. Then, once you finish, if you do that stretch a consecutive time, you may be able to go further into it safely.
- Although it is a much discussed topic with no absolute answers, I find the ideal time to hold a stretch is for 20-40 seconds. You can hold it longer if you wish, especially if it is still gentle and then as you hold it longer than 1-2 mins you will feel yourself sink further into it. It may also become more intense as your body releases further into the range. This method of holding for longer & gentle periods is known for releasing the denser levels of fascia that are hard to release with short bouts of stretching. This type of longer stretching can be particularly helpful for the Hips and Spinal soft tissue.
- Do each main muscle group for 2-3 repetitions.
- Build in the time for post activity stretching into your total allotted time for the activity! This way it happens and the 5-10 mins that it will take to do it after your activity will just become routine.
Dynamic Stretching Useful Tips:
- Use a lower intensity for the movements you are doing during your warm-up than the intensity you plan to use once you are performing your sport/exercise.
- Don't jerk or bounce within the movements. Try to keep it as fluid and as natural feeling as possible.
- Do each dynamic movement for at least 20 reps per side.
- Try to do motions that are movement specific for what you are about to do so that the appropriate muscles are ready to perform.