Written by: Vincent Chou
Spring is here and the sun is out, it’s a great time to start exercising and being active, but injuries can limit your ability to keep fit. So today we will be talking about how to decrease your chances of injury with proper stretching.
Stretching is often an overlooked part of exercise but it is important in keeping your muscles healthy. You know that you should stretch your muscles, but are you doing it correctly?
Stretching is commonly used for warming up, increasing muscle length and range of motion and recovery from training. Typically stretching is recommended for both before and after exercise, however, there are different types of stretches.
The two most common types of stretching are:
Research shows that using the wrong type of stretch can reduce your athletic performance.
So what’s the difference?
Dynamic vs Static stretching
Dynamic stretching involves active movement of your muscles within your range of motion to prepare your body for the upcoming activity. Dynamic stretching is typically specific to a sport and the movements can vary, but they commonly tend to mimic actions involved in that sport. For example in sports such as soccer or rugby, dynamic stretches aim to address hip mobility so stretches such as leg swings, hip circles and walking lunges are commonly used. These stretches don’t tend to target a specific muscle group but rather to improve general range of motion.
Static stretching is the traditional stretch, where you lengthen and hold the stretch for 30 to 40 seconds. Static stretches usually target one muscle group and by holding the stretch it assists in relaxing and lengthening muscles fibres to help improve range of motion. Examples include the standing quadriceps stretch and seated hamstring stretch.
Which is best?
Research shows that all types of stretching are effective for increasing range of movement. However in regards to performance and strength, research shows that static stretching can decrease strength and performance and that dynamic stretching before exercise can result in a slight performance increase.
We recommend dynamic stretching before exercise to improve range of movement and performance and static stretching after exercise to maintain muscle length and increase range of movement. As with all exercises please take caution and don’t overstretch muscles or stretch too quickly otherwise you risk injury. If you already have an injury, call us on 9264 7079 and one of our practitioners can help you get back to being active.