How Stretching Types Impact Performance
There are different types of stretching styles and each play different roles in your performance. Research has shown that stretching properly before and after activity is crucial to reducing injuries and improving your overall health.
Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Stretching
What is the difference? Static stretching is holding a specific stretch for a longer period (typically 10-60 seconds) whereas dynamic stretching is essentially stretching with controlled movement in which the muscle is moved through its full range of motion. Static stretching has been a highly debatable topic in the sports and fitness world, and the research has shown that prolonged static stretching before a workout could actually weaken performance. This has drawn more people to shift to a larger emphasis on dynamic stretching; however this solely depends on your goal with how you want your body to perform.
What is your goal?
If your sole purpose is to gain more flexibility, range of motion (ROM), and relieving joint stress, then static stretching is the right path for you. If your goal is sports and fitness based performance, the research leans toward dynamic stretching. As a side note, post workout dynamic stretching is recommended to reduce activity related injuries.
The findings on static stretching show a small reduction in athletic performance because, by lengthening the muscle pre-exercise, it reduces the amount of power and force that can be generated.
What is right for you?
You need to understand what you are training for and how you want the results to be focused. As individuals, we are all on different paths and we need to understand how to optimize what is right for us at this given moment.
Take the time and properly plan out your goals, your activities, and your training routine and with that information you can choose the right type of stretching to meet your specific needs. Typical stretching routines average around 5-10 minutes, however the overall warm up phase of your workout could also include a light cardio, mobility drills, and movements with rubber bands.
Jeff Cody is a plant-based certified personal trainer and nutritionist.