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Stretching: Static VS Dynamic

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You come into the gym after sitting at work all day. Due to traffic, you made it just on time to hear the end of the workout explanation then jumping right into warm-ups. The WOD has thrusters, “goodbye back,” you think. Why don’t we stretch at the beginning of class? We do a form of stretching called dynamic stretching. This is much different from the traditional static stretching. When it comes to the case of stretching, timing is everything to enable the most effective performance in, and outside, the gym.

What’s the Difference?


Static: A slow, constant position hold at the end of range of motion, over a specific given amount of time, where the muscles are kept relaxed and elongated.

Dynamic: Sport specific, functional movements performed over multiple repetition while slowly increasing the end range of motion stretch on each repetition.


Good examples to each are touching your toes and leg swings (monster walks). Sitting on the floor, bent at your waist in a forward fold, with your hands reaching out towards or even past your toes (depending on your flexibility), is a great example of a STATIC stretch. Keeping one leg planted on the ground and swinging the other straight leg forwards with bringing your foot above eye level, across multiple repetitions with the goal of reaching the foot slightly higher and higher on each repetition is a good example of a DYNAMIC stretch.

So, at the beginning of class, the warm-ups that the coaches have you go through are simply different variations of both dynamic stretching and muscle activation. This is a great way to not only warm your muscles for optimal performance during the WOD, but it’s a great way to stretch out with movement. Static stretching before a workout will relax the muscle and induces Stretch-Induced Strength Loss, which turns off a large portion of the muscles contractile potential [1]. Think, taking a rubber band out of the freezer and stretching it past its elastic flexibility. Therefore, dynamic stretches are to be done before the workout and static after the workout.

Dynamic

Other great ways to still get the same benefit of stretching is rolling out with a foam roller and LAX ball before the warm-up. Yes, this means you must get to the gym just a little bit earlier to have time. If this is something you struggle with, maybe setting it as your monthly goal is a great start.

Static

The best time to perform static stretching is immediately following a workout. Your muscles have reached their maximum potential range of motion due the exercises during the WOD. Also, your muscles are very warm and able to push a little further past current range of motion. This will also increase blood flow to the affect muscles and reduce recovery time. Make sure you are holding each position for a minimum of 2 minutes each. Does this mean that you might have to stay in the gym just a little bit longer than leaving immediately after finishing the WOD? Sure, but wouldn’t you rather spend an extra 10 minutes after the workout working on static stretching instead of complaining about always hurting during the warmup?

[1]. Page, P. (2012). CURRENT CONCEPTS IN MUSCLE STRETCHING FOR EXERCISE AND REHABILITATION. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 7(1), 109–119.