Quick question…How often do you stretch?
If you stretch DAILY – way to go!! I would argue that you have made an excellent habit that only a small percentage of the population follows through with on a daily basis. My next question is… Are you stretching correctly?
While mobility limitations are present within all age populations, the loss of mobility becomes more prevalent as individuals age (especially if nothing is done to counteract this negative progression).
However, did you know that there are multiple types of stretching? According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine there are actually 5 types of stretching techniques. BUT, for the purposes of this blog (and to make sure I don’t put you to sleep 😉 ) I’m just going to address two (Static and Dynamic Stretching), as these are the two most commonly practiced in the general population.
The key here though, is that Static and Dynamic stretching both play unique rolls in exercise, and need to be applied correctly to receive optimal results.
Below I’ve included the two stretching variations defined by NASM, as well as examples and best applications for each:
Static Stretching: “Static stretching includes passively taking the muscle to the point of tension for a minimum of 30 seconds for 1-3 sets.”
An example of a few static stretches would be like the ones seen below:
Static stretching is great for improving muscles imbalances, and addressing overactive/overly tightened muscles. Static stretching is also often used post-injury to help regain mobility that was lost while an injury was healing.
For “everyday use” I prefer to apply static stretching when muscles are already “warm”, as I find it to be an injury risk to push a muscle to full tension when it’s completely “cold” (IE – right when you wake up out of bed). POST workout, after a walk, at the end of the day, or even following a few rounds of “sun salutations” to get the blood flowing (that’s for my yogis 🙂 ), are all a great time to apply static stretching.
I am also a HUGE proponent of including static stretches BETWEEN sets in a strength training program. Not only does this help to fill your breaks so you’re not just twiddling your thumbs or scrolling through “the gram”, but studies have also shown significant improvements to strength gains with the addition of mid-set stretching.
Dynamic Stretching: “…uses reciprocal inhibition to increase flexibility through the force produced by the muscles and the body’s momentum to take a joint through a full range of motion…”
Some examples of dynamic stretches would be:
At our club we also like to call dynamic stretching “movement prep”. This is because dynamic stretches are the ideal form of “warm up” prior to exercise. Dynamic stretches prepare the body for further movement, and to help prevent injury while under load or during higher levels of intensity.
At FFC we like to apply dynamic “corrective” based stretches to our clients’ warm up. These dynamic stretches are geared specifically around individual’s needs and areas that need to be improved to create optimal movement patterns.
Dynamic stretches are best used prior to any workout including resistance training, HIIT, cardio, sports, or truly any physical activity where the body is pushing beyond its “normal” daily physical routine. I also highly encourage clients to use their dynamic warm ups in the morning as a way to prep their body for their day to improve quality of movement.
So… just in case you decided to simply scroll to the bottom after briefly skimming through this whole blog 😉 , here are the cliff notes…
Static Stretching = for injuries/tight muscles – best when you’re already “warm”.
Dynamic Stretches = to prevent injuries – used to “wake up cold muscles” before workouts or in the AM
If you would like to learn what stretching and mobility work YOU could most benefit from, we would love to set up a one-on-one fitness screening and goal assessment (at no cost). Just send a quick email to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject link: “Success Session”, and we’ll let you know what we have available for next week!
Please let us know if you have any questions!
Mara Gamble (owner)