Dynamic vs. Static Stretching: What You Need to Know

dynamic vs. static stretching header image

Whether it’s a daily workout or an occasional activity like a hike, bike ride or paddle, it’s important to prepare our muscles.

In the old days, when I was in high school and college, the only type of stretching we were taught was the type now called “static stretching.” We knew it was important to get our muscles and joints ready for the physical activity.

Stretching has changed!

But research and experience has taught us since that static stretching isn’t really the best to prepare our bodies for an activity. I learned this recently at a short presentation by a couple doctors from a local chiropractic clinic at a Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Static stretching is still great—but better after your workout or activity. Or even each day when you’re not preparing for an activity. It’s just plain good for our bodies so we can keep our flexibility.

This is important as our bodies age, as flexibility is one of the (many!) things that diminish without use.

But to prepare for a workout or other physical activity, we want to warm up with “dynamic stretching” instead.

Here’s a short video that describes the difference. She also goes into the why’s of each one. It’s definitely worth the 4-minute watch.

Dynamic stretching is a way to gradually stretch our muscles through movement, rather than through holding a stretch. It’s better for pre-activity because it also raises our body temperature and heart rate.

The experts have found dynamic stretching is better for preventing injury.

Rather than try to describe some dynamic stretches, I thought it’d be easier to show you. Here’s a video that demonstrates 21 different dynamic stretches.

Find What Works for You

You don’t need to do all of them, of course. But choose and do one or two that moves each of your major muscle groups before your workout or activity.

I’ve always done static stretching—since my teens. Thankfully I’ve not had any injuries because of not including dynamic stretching!

I’m sure some of you know this stuffy already. But for those of you, like me, who didn’t, it’s important to make this change in our pre-activity prep.

This is ESPECIALLY important for you if you’re a “weekend warrior” or only do physical activity occasionally. And the older we get, the more important it is 🙂

So…take some time to watch these videos, and Happy Stretching!

(I’m not necessarily endorsing the folks who produce these videos—I haven’t done any research on them. I just found them on YouTube and think they offer a good, basic overview.)

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Sharon is the founder and administrator of Active Outdoor Women. She loves getting outside in beautiful places to hike, paddle, camp, snowshoe, ski, ride—and encouraging others to come along! Besides maintaining AOW and her other blog, Twin Cities Outdoors, Sharon writes and designs websites, newsletters, blogs, emails and other marketing tools for clients.