Jog or bike for 5 minutes, then stretch out and we’ll start our workout! I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve heard that pre workout advice given out, all through sports while at school as well as in most gyms around Los Angeles. It was not really until I began playing professional soccer at age 22 that I was shown an alternative and vastly superior way to prepare for exercise, dynamic stretching.
The primary differences between the two types of stretching are as follows, static stretching is a reasonably passive stretch where gravity, bodyweight or another form of tension are used to progressively stretch a single muscle group over a duration of time, for example a straight leg seated hamstring stretch. A dynamic stretch meanwhile is the active process of stretching a muscle using movement of the muscle group through it’s range of motion, for example a straight legged march to stretch the hamstrings with the aim being to increase the height the leg reaches with each progressive step.
Recent studies show that while static stretching has benefits such as increased flexibility in the stretched muscle groups (if stretched repeatedly over time), they do however have a negative impact on physical performance if done prior to vigorous exercise. Documented declines in strength, power, torque and speed have been observed during studies. This drop in performance can last for up to 60 minutes post stretching and is theorized to be caused by changes in reflex sensitivity, muscle-tendon tension and neuromuscular activation time. Thus, if preparing for strenuous physical activity such as lifting weights or playing sports, a dynamic stretching warm up is the way to go.
Example Dynamic Warm-up:
Straight leg march - 20 yards
Butt kick jog - 40 yards
Walking quad stretch - 20 yards
Walking glute stretch - 20 yards
Prone scorpion - 10 to each side
3 point torso twist - 10 to each side
Dynamic toe touch - 10 reps