Warm Ups - Static Stretching vs Dynamic Stretching: Which Is Best?

If you have ever wondered whether you should do dynamic stretches or static stretches to help with warming up or for flexibility,  we understand your frustration - it seems like it changes from year to year! 

You're probably not the only one to be unsure of whether dynamic or static stretches are most appropriate, so we are here as experts in this arena to help answer those questions and give you the best advice around your warm-ups, stretching and mobility.

dynamic stretch terrace physio plus

 

Dynamic Stretches or Static Stretches?

One of the questions that we get asked really regularly is: “Do I need to do static stretches as part of my training, whether it’s warm up or cool down?"

Well, the answer isn’t as simple as a YES or a NO.

What we do know is that static stretches help to calm the nervous system down and to help your muscles relax.

When done over an extended period of time (as in, longer than 3-5 minutes), that is when you can have some lasting change in terms of muscle length.

That is well and good for cool downs and mobility sessions, but what we do know is that static stretching essentially turns down your nervous system and your muscles.

In that instance, it's not the best thing for warming up for sport.

 

Benefits Of Dynamic Stretching

However, what is fantastic for warming up for sports is dynamic stretching and dynamic exercises. Some of these might include:

  • Butt kicks
  • High knees
  • Skipping
  • Side stepping
  • Fast feet
  • Lunges
  • ‘Karioka’ which is a sideways pattern
  • Leg swings for your hamstring
  • Any sort of dynamic movement.

Dynamic, controlled movements do far more to prep your body for sport than just static stretching.

 

When you’re doing your dynamic stretches, it’s really important that your brain is engaged and you’re actively thinking about what you’re doing.

Your dynamic stretches and your mobility drills that are dynamic will have a much better outcome on your performance if they’re done as part of a warm up.

We’re going to talk about how to warm up for sports in a later video.

Can I Still Do Static Stretches?

Now there’s a little caveat - if you’ve done static stretches for as long as you can remember, and if you feel like they’re a part of your routine, if they get you in the right mind space to prepare for your chosen sport - that is when they’re a good thing to do.

We know that having a routine, visualising, all those things are really important to preparing your physical body, your muscles, for sport and so if things like static stretches help your mind get ready for sport, then they’re a good part of your warm up - because it warms your mind up.

Which Stretches Are Best For Performance?

In terms of the effect on your body physically, dynamic stretches are a far better method to prepare your body for the movement that you want it to do.

Generally speaking, you want to go from generic exercises and gentle mobility stuff all the way through to sports specific actions and movements.

Hopefully that answers your question about should you do static stretches before sport.

The answer isn’t yes or no, the answer is if you find it helpful, do it - but if you don’t, dynamic stretches are going to be better.