Be Aware Of The Positives And Negatives Of Static Stretching

Since the beginning of time humans have been stretching their muscles out of instinct to get rid of stiffness in our muscles. When we wake up in the mornings we have all let out a big yawn and done some awkward contortion of our bodies in order to loosen up our joints after laying in bed all night. There’s no secret that it makes our bodies feel better. It’s an innate reaction that we do even subconsciously. Throughout history static stretching has been done before and after exercising and competitions. The reason was to prevent injury and increase the range of motion of the joints. In recent years there has been much debate about how you should go about stretching. If you want your body to feel its best then you should be aware of the positives and negatives of static stretching and the duration of time for which it should be done.

I’ll start off with the bad news about static stretching for all those avid fans out there. Most studies have shown that static stretching before intense exercise actually decreases the explosive capacity of our muscles. At least for a short period of time after we do this type of stretching. The studies also have shown no increased injury prevention. If you are preparing to squat, jump, run sprints, etc. it is much more beneficial to do a dynamic stretching routine to warm up your muscles and prepare them for those specific movements. When you stretch and hold your muscles in that position you are relaxing your muscles and elongating them. That does nothing to prepare your neurons to fire, or your muscles to contract efficiently. The bottom line is, stay away from static stretching before a workout. You can incorporate it in your warm-up, but make sure your body is warm first. I would recommend that the majority of your warm-up be dynamic movements.

Don’t give up on static stretching just yet. I know it seems like we just completely bashed it. There are still some great benefits that we can reap from it. This type of stretching is super easy and just about anyone can do it. It’s great for those who are beginners or elderly and may not be able to do the dynamic movements that closely resemble some complex exercises. Static stretching is a great way to increase range of motion which is very helpful in executing the proper techniques during lifting and running. It also helps to correct muscle imbalances at joints. When the muscle on one side of a joint is more dominant than the other side, an imbalance exists which can cause pain or injury. Static stretching is more effective at correcting the body’s posture after the body is warm, which is why the proper time for this is after a workout. After a workout the muscles have been contracting at a high intensity and stretching helps them to get back into their original resting length. Lengthening the muscle is easier when they are warm because they are naturally more pliable. Even if you haven’t done a workout but you feel stiff from sitting or laying down for a long time, ALWAYS warm up first. Do something to increase your core temperature. That doesn’t mean you have to be sweating, but that is a good indication that your core temperature is raised. You can do something as simple as rolling on a foam roller to wake your muscles up before you stretch.

I hope this article made you aware of the positives and negatives of static stretching. If you know anyone who still does static stretching to warm-up before they workout then post this article on their facebook or tweet it and tag someone. Guide them to How To Effectively Warm-up With Dynamic Stretching. They will thank you for it!

Adam Pegg About Adam Pegg

Adam is an athlete with a serious passion for fitness and health. He played basketball at University of Delaware and Stetson. His degree is in health science and he's a certified personal trainer who loves helping people reach their goals.