Stretching your muscles is always a good idea, but the way in which you limber up has an impact on your outcomes. So, should you reach and hold or go with the flow? We compared static and dynamic stretching to find out.
Static and Dynamic Stretching: The Numbers
Keeping static stretches to under a minute can unlock your inflexible bits and deliver injury prevention benefits.
Dynamic warm-ups boosted the vertical jump efforts – AKA explosive power – in healthy men by close to 10%.
The Difference Between Static and Dynamic Stretching
Static stretches target individual muscles by putting them under tension while you hold (generally uncomfortable) sitting, standing or lying positions for short periods of time.
Dynamic stretches – such as lunges, walking knee hugs and heel-to-bum kicks – get your muscles moving by mimicking actions you’re about to perform during training.
When Should You Perform Static and Dynamic Stretches?
Most effective when used as part of your cool-down. If you want to loosen up before a strength session, keep it short. Each hold should last no more than 25 seconds.
Best deployed as a warm-up, particularly for cardio. It raises your heart rate, directs blood to your muscles and oils your joints before your HIIT session really heats up.
What do Static and Dynamic Stretches Do for Power?
At worst, pre-workout static stretching was found to reduce strength and muscle power for up to an hour afterwards. At best, studies suggest it has no effect.
Research on professional footballers found that dynamic warm-up drills increased muscular and sprint performance, making them better for speed-based sessions.
Can Static and Dynamic Stretches Make You Fitter?
Need a circulatory boost? Research found that four weeks of doing five 30-minute static stretching sessions helped to reduce arterial stiffness in middle-aged men.
Dynamic stretching uses more energy. You’ll torch around 70 calories per 10 minutes compared with just 27 calories holding your static stretches.
MH Verdict: It’s a Draw
Good news: all the science suggests that both types of bends bring benefits. So, as long as you’re using the right stretch at the right time to support your workouts and training, you really can’t lose. The only winner here is you – if you remember to take the time to flex.
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