We’ve all been told that stretching is an essential part of warming up before an exercise and that if we don’t do it, we’ll injure ourselves. However, recent studies don’t quite agree with that. Why is static stretching not recommended?
Static stretching isn’t recommended because it impairs your body’s performance. According to research, runners run slower, jumpers jump lower, and bodybuilders sense a decrease in their muscle power after static stretching. Stretching also doesn’t significantly protect you against injury.
This article will cover everything you need to know about warm-ups, static stretching, and alternatives.
- 1 What Is a Warm-up and Why Is It Important? ?♀️
- 2 Static Stretching ?
- 3 Dynamic Stretching ?
- 4 What Is the Difference? ?
- 5 Why Is Static Stretching Not Recommended? ❌
- 6 The Advantages of Static Stretching ✅
- 7 What Is the Best Way to Warm Up? ⛹️♂️
- 8 Some Dynamic Stretches to Do When Warming-up ?♂️
- 9 Final Thoughts ?
What Is a Warm-up and Why Is It Important? ?♀️
Warm-ups are what they sound like: routines designed to warm the body up.
You can warm up with activities like walking slowly and then gradually building up to jogging or cycling at a low intensity and gradually increasing your effort over a few minutes.
The time you spend warming up usually varies between 5-15 minutes – depending on the intensity of your workout.
The warm-up process prepares the body for aerobic activity.
It revs up your cardiovascular system as your body temperature rises and your blood supply increases.
As well as reducing muscle soreness, warming up may also minimize injury risks.
A warm-up routine usually includes static stretching before starting to work out.
Stretching improves performance, reduces injury risk, and alleviates muscle soreness.
Static Stretching ?
During this exercise, the movements are slow and controlled, promoting postural awareness and alignment of the body.
This type of stretching elongates muscles and causes relaxation, which helps increase muscles’ range of motion (ROM).
Everyone can benefit from static stretching since it’s considered safe and effective for improving flexibility.
Athletes have practiced stretching for a long time because people believe that stretching before exercise will boost your performance and reduce the risk of injuries.
There is also no evidence claiming that stretching helps reduce the soreness you develop in the days following exercise.
Research has also shown that stretching doesn’t prevent repetitive strain injuries but prevents acute muscle strains and tears.
Dynamic Stretching ?
Dynamic stretching involves actively moving muscles and joints in repetitive sets (around 10-12), usually aiming at a group of muscles.
It prepares the muscles by doing the same movements as the main workout, increasing power and coordination.
These features make dynamic stretching an ideal warm-up method before speed-strength types of exercise.
What Is the Difference? ?
Dynamic stretching is increasingly becoming an alternative to static stretching.
Static stretching doesn’t warm up the muscles.
Instead, it is used to soothe them, making it a great part of the cool-down process.
While not recommended for being used before activity, static stretching serves valuable purposes.
It’s still an effective method of stretching and increasing the joints’ range of motion and can be used as a short-duration stretch alongside a dynamic warm-up.
However, the longer you stretch, the worse the impact on performance.
Here’s a physical therapist’s take on the difference between static and dynamic stretching:
Why Is Static Stretching Not Recommended? ❌
Various research studies have shown that static stretching inhibits the amount of force a muscle can produce and limits your physical performance in running, jumping, lifting, etc.
Another research says that static stretching can significantly reduce muscle endurance, torque, and power during resistance training.
As a result, static stretching isn’t optimal before athletic events or physical activities requiring high use of energy and force.
The Advantages of Static Stretching ✅
Studies have shown that static stretching prevents muscle strains and tears in sports such as running and sprinting.
It has been proven that static stretching is better than dynamic stretching for increasing flexibility.
But for increased athletic performance, it’s better to do dynamic stretching.
The increase in flexibility may help athletes perform better, such as gymnasts or tennis players.
However, that’s only possible if you also strengthen your muscles to control your movement through the range of motion.
While doing a sport, if you have a low range of motion and flexibility in one joint, it can also affect other joints and lead to injury.
Additionally, our muscles weaken as we age, and our flexibility declines, so we need to stretch more as we get older.
Need an exercise mat to do your stretches? See below our top three recommended exercise mats for stretching.
What Is the Best Way to Warm Up? ⛹️♂️
According to studies, holding a stretch for longer than 60 seconds reduces your ability to produce muscle force by 4.6%.
These dynamic moves will be much more effective at lengthening a muscle.
They’ll also be more likely to increase the muscle’s temperature and prepare the muscles better for exercises.
Some Dynamic Stretches to Do When Warming-up ?♂️
As we said earlier, dynamic stretches are better tools for warm-ups before activity.
See these amazon books for more specific stretches.
Here are some dynamic exercises to perform before working out:
Exercises such as these improve your ankle’s range of motion and stability and strengthen the shin muscles to reduce pain in this area.
Begin the exercise by standing upright and keeping your shoulders back. Lift both of your toes off the ground.
Now, you should start walking on your heels. Continue for 20 steps.
Again, start by standing upright and keeping a good posture.
Lift both heels off the ground and step forward, balancing on the feet balls.
Continue for 20 steps.
Leg swings are simple dynamic stretches that prepare your legs and hip flexors for the workout.
Take a firm grip on a wall, bar, or anything else you can hold on to.
Then swing a leg out to the side, move it back across your body in front of the other leg, and do ten reps for each leg.
Walk forward using a long stride with your knee just behind or over your toes.
Drop your back knee toward the ground to lower yourself into a lunging position.
Step forward, take a giant step, and repeat for the other leg.
When you’re in the lunging position, twist and look back towards the leg in front of you to make this motion even more effective.
Hold your arms out in front of you, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Push your butt out behind you, keep your knees behind your toes, and swing your arms back as low as possible.
Then stand up and bring back your arms to their previous position.
Repeat 10-15 times for each set.
Here’s a video to help you out:
Final Thoughts ?
Static stretching is viewed as a harmful or ineffective exercise.
But it can be beneficial depending on a few factors: how long you’re holding the stretch and what kind of activity you want to do afterward.
However, static stretching can be good for you. If you’re trying to increase joint flexibility or enjoy doing static stretching, you should go for it.
It’s not like it hurts your body – as long as you’re not over-stretching to discomfort and pain or holding it for too long.