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Now That's a Stretch!

Dynamic or Active Stretching vs. Static Stretching, which is best.

 

Well we have made our New Years Resolution, and are now committed to starting a new exercise program.  Everyone knows that you need to warm up prior to exercise, but what we have done in the past may not be the best way to start. 

For those of us starting off this year the biggest mistake we can make is to completely skip a warm-up and jump right into the workout. Whether its sports, lifting weights, going for a run, or doing a workout from the comfort of your living room, a warm-up is key. Warm-ups prevent injury, and get our bodies ready for the exercise they are about to partake in. In the past there have been two different warm-up types, a static warm-up, or an active warm-up, also known as a dynamic warm-up. 

When you think of a static warm-up, think of middle school gym class. While that might not be the most embarrassing memory from that time it is one that many of us remember. A static stretch consists of lengthening the tissue for an extended amount of time and holding it for about thirty seconds. The goal is to release tension in the muscle, and prevent any tearing, strains, or other injuries to the tissue.

A Dynamic warm-up is what we see many athletes doing. Think of a football player doing agility drills, lunges, trunk rotations, and jogging. These movements are typically low impact but can help to increase blood flow and activate the central nervous system. These are two key components when getting ready for physical activity of any kind. 

Research shows that Dynamic Stretching is key for a decrease in injury, and an increase in performance. Static stretching, although important for after a workout, is not truly the best warm up. This type of warm-up can decrease central nervous system activity and blood flow. Two great components for post-workout recovery, but not for a comprehensive warm-up.

So next time you choose to be active, choose a dynamic warm-up. Some of my favorites are shoulder rolls, lunges, trunk rotations, and jumping jacks. Find what works best for you and fits your lifestyle. Be active and stay safe. If you do find yourself injured contact a doctor or physical therapist to assist you in recovery. Sports injuries can be serious and should be handled by a trained professional.

 

Sam Morris, MS, CIFT

Certified Inclusive Fitness Trainer

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