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Dynamic vs. Static Stretching: When to Choose Which?

It's time to learn about the most important features of static and dynamic stretches and their physiological utility. We’ll show you why you need both in your well-planned workout.

A long time ago (decades ago), stretching was almost a terrible thing to do - especially for those who did the most strenuous sports. It is a little-known fact, but Arnold Schwarzenegger was also at the forefront of bodybuilding in incorporating stretching into his training plans and his results speak for themselves.

What do you need to know about static stretching?

Stretching is now part of all conscious workouts. In the public consciousness, this practically means the method of static stretching. During static stretching, we stretch a muscle to the most tolerable position, that is, to the point where we feel a strong pull, and we could no longer increase this without causing injury to ourselves or doing it incorrectly by sacrificing our basic correct body position. This stretch is then maintained for a minimum of 15-20 seconds or up to 60 seconds. Overall, it is not repeated many times, probably up to two or three times in a row.

This type of stretching basically has a raison d'être after the workouts. We can relax the muscles that have shortened or even become spasmed from the effort, to ensure optimal blood circulation and to reduce tone. Ideally, our goal with exercise is to create a well-functioning, healthy, harmonious muscle - and that means not only strengthening the muscle, but also creating and maintaining the right tone. An overworked but spasmodic,

shortened, vulnerable muscle is just as undesirable as a weak, underdeveloped, unworkable muscle that is always replaced by another, overcompensating, overloaded muscle or muscle group.

We should choose dynamic stretching for warming up!

By the time static stretching finally gained its worthy appreciation, dynamic stretching began to gain ground through the development of the science of movements. Its physiological applicability was proved, yet its reception was initially extremely cautious.

Dynamic stretching is a series of movements in which the muscles and joints work to the maximum range of motion, but we do not hold it there for a long time - unlike the static one - and try to increase the range of movement with every stretch. This way the muscle will work and relax, work again and then relax again. As the muscle tone gradually decreases, it will be possible to carefully extended it further. This is a similar way to Muscle Energy Techniques

(MET) that manual therapists are using in order to decrease muscle tone more effectively. With dynamic stretches there is a need for more repetitions (8-10) compared to static stretches (2-3) to achieve the same.

It is important to note that this is not the same as bouncing in the direction of our toes five times to be able to touch it. Dynamic stretching always means fine, continuous, controlled, consciously executed movements. We start always from the exact same body position, so we do not “cheat” by moving from the basic position. We’re performing practically the same type of movement with the same rhythm, only with more and more range of movement.

In general, this is a much more complex movement pattern than static stretching, so its effectiveness is also multiplied: movement coordination and the involvement of the nervous system by controlling the movements will also have a positive effect on our training. However, this is why we need to pay even more attention to the correct execution, and we need proper body awareness so that we do not cause damage to our muscles and joints by

moving too suddenly or out of momentum without control. It is always a conscious process.

In light of the above, it is worth mentioning that we are all individual cases. The specifics of a given form of movement, the purpose of training, the person's flexibility or lack thereof, or the quality of the tissues are just a few of the factors that need to be considered before, trying out which type of stretch fits your workouts or personal goals the most. In addition, science is constantly evolving, for example: the stretching qualities of fascia, is beginning to come to the forefront. It is slowly making its way from therapeutic practice to the tools of every fitness studio, dancers and athletes themselves.

Happy safe stretching!


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