Stretching is a common way for most anyone to warm-up before exercise or a sporting event.
Today in sports, there are various ways that an athlete can warm-up to get ready for a general workout or in preparation for a competition. When athletes ask me about the difference between dynamic and static stretching, and which one is better for them to do (as an athlete), I always respond with the “rubber band” analogy:
I ask them what would happen if they tried to stretch a rubber band that was in the freezer for an hour compared to a room temperature rubber band. The obvious deduction is that the frozen rubber band will break when stretched as opposed to the room temperature rubber band that will stretch, but not break under the same tension.
Dynamic Stretching Defined.
Dynamic stretching is ideal prior to exercising to prepare joints for movement and muscles for optimal activation. Tweet This! A dynamic warm-up includes movements that are similar to those that an athlete would be exposed to do in his or her chosen sport. Some examples of dynamic movements include high knees, football or basketball shuffle, high knee or quick carioca, and any running mechanic drills.
One potential disadvantage of dynamic stretching is the small risk of injury if the movements are performed with poor technique. The risk is extremely low and the benefits of dynamic warm-ups far outweigh the negatives.
Static Stretching Defined.
By definition, static stretching is when the muscles act without movement or generate force, while the length remains static and the joint angle does not change. Static stretching will increase flexibility in athletes and can help support the recovery process after activity. Tweet This! However, static stretching relaxes the muscles involved, and therefore does not prepare the body for activities where high velocities and impacts are present. Studies have shown that static stretching before participating in exercise or a sports competition can actually decrease performance such as sprint acceleration. Tweet This!
“But, Coach! I feel better when I static stretch or a coach stretches me out before a game!”
My response, “Awesome!”
If an athlete psychologically believes he or she feels ready to perform at the highest level after static stretching, complemented with dynamic stretching before a competition, I say go for it. In this case, you will gain more psychologically, than you could potentially lose physiologically. For some athletes, stretching is a time to get in their ‘zone,’ but for others it is just part of their routine. Tweet This! Either way, I advise my coaches to give their athletes a quick static stretch simply to fulfill their psychological needs.
I have found that when you combine dynamic and static stretching you will get the best results from both a psychological and physiological standpoint. Tweet This! Here is an example of a combined warm up for an off-season linear speed day may look like.
LAT STEP OVER & DUCK UNDER X 2 EACH
1) CROSS BODY KNEE HUG
2) QUAD PULL AND REACH
3) HAMSTRING SCOOPS
4) BACKWARD LUNGE & REACH
DYNAMIC FLEXIBILITY/STATIC STRETCH
1) ACCELERATE / HAMSTRING STRETCH / 30 YDS
2) ACCELERATE / FULL SQUAT & HOLD / 30 YDS
3) BACKWARD RUN / STAGGERED HAMSTRING STRETCH / 20 YDS
4) CARIOCA SQUAT / HIP FLEXOR STRETCH / 20 YDS (10/10)
5) STIFF LEGGED BOUND / 3-WAY HAM STRETCH (FEET WIDE) R/M/L/M / 20 YDS
6) STIFF LEGGED BOUND / KNEELING 2-WAY GROIN STRETCH / 20 YDS
7) HIGH KNEE CARIOCA / NO STRETCH / 20 YDS
8) HIGH KNEE CARIOCA / NO STRETCH / 20 YDS
1) A MARCH / 2 X 10 YDS
2) A SKIP 2 X 20 YD
3) CONTRAST HIGH KNEES 2 X 20 YDS
4) LEAN FALL RUN 2 X 10 YDS 2 EACH LEG
5) SINGLE LEG STARTS 4 X 10 YDS 2 EACH LEG
What are some of your favorite warm up and stretching exercises?