Static and dynamic stretching are two key types of stretches that are often included in a fitness workout or recovery routine. Choosing the right one for your goals can affect both your performance and muscle health.

Both static and dynamic stretching can improve your flexibility, strength and range of motion; but when you choose a stretch type depends on your individual needs. For example, if you’re looking to increase your speed, power and agility, it might be better to use dynamic stretching instead of static.

Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching that involves active movements and short, repetitive movements. These stretches help to stimulate your nerves and muscles. Performing these stretches can also increase your heart rate and body temperature, which will lead to increased energy levels and performance during exercise or recovery sessions.

Typically, dynamic stretches are done before exercise or when you’re recovering from intense physical activity. They help to prepare your body for more challenging movements, says Dan Leventhal, director of sports medicine at the National College of Sports Medicine in Chicago.

The benefits of dynamic stretching include improved performance in a variety of activities, such as basketball, soccer and weightlifting. It also decreases passive stiffness and increases muscular flexibility, which can help reduce the risk of injury in athletes or non-athletes.

In addition, dynamic stretches can help you achieve better balance and posture. According to Jay Blahnik, author of “Full-Body Flexibility,” dynamic stretches improve mobility and can help prevent injuries that can occur when your joints become overstretched.

Static stretches can help alleviate tightness or soreness after an exercise or recovery session, but they’re not as effective at increasing your flexibility. Because a static stretch usually only lasts 15-60 seconds, you don’t get as much movement in it as with dynamic stretches. This can cause you to become overextended and susceptible to injury, notes Anna Chan, an exercise physiologist at the University of Connecticut Health Center in Stamford.

To avoid overextension, you should only do dynamic stretches in sets of 8-12 repetitions. Unlike static stretches, which can be held for a long time, dynamic stretches are performed in short, active movements and should be stopped when you’re tired or feel like your body is getting fatigued.

Both dynamic and static stretches are important parts of a healthy, efficient and safe exercise program. But, it’s best to learn the differences between them and when to use each type before you jump into a gym workout or recovery session.

Generally, dynamic stretches are recommended before a workout or after exercise to help reduce the risk of injury and improve your performance. However, static stretches can help to improve your flexibility and may also be beneficial during recovery sessions after intense activity, especially if you’re experiencing pain or soreness in your muscles, advises Joanne Hashish, an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise.

The decision of whether to perform static or dynamic stretches should be based on your goals and the cues your body gives you. Sullivan says it’s a good idea to check with your doctor or trainer before beginning any stretches.

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