There is much debate on the effects of static and dynamic stretching in pre-exercise routines. Up until the early 2000s, static stretching was the norm in preparing the body, through a warm-up, for competition. For decades, static stretches were popular in athletics and it wasn’t until around 10 years ago that new research on stretching came to the forefront. Many studies have been done to determine the effects of static and dynamic stretching prior to competition. While there are no detrimental effects of performing static stretches before physical activity, there were no benefits found either. However, there are results that show an increase in performance in athletes performing dynamic stretches before competition and dynamic stretching should be the preferred method.
For the longest time we were told that static stretching was the best way to loosen up the muscles in the body prior to training or competition. Where a static stretch puts the muscle in a fixed state and is held for a period of time, a dynamic stretch allows the muscle to increase its range of motion during controlled movements. Dynamic stretching has been shown to increase blood flow, range of motion, awareness of joint position, and improve athletic performances. Dynamic stretches also focus on multiple muscle groups at once, while static stretches isolate a single muscle group.During static stretching, the myofilaments actin and myosin are relaxed and pulled to their furthest limits with minimal overlap during the start of the muscle contraction. To get the most powerful contraction, actin and myosin connections are desired to produce the greatest force.
Growing up as a youth athlete, I remember warm-ups before soccer and baseball practice that consisted of laps around the field followed by static stretching. The team captains were responsible for leading the static stretching routine as the coach began to prepare the practice session. At Champion’s QUEST, all of our athletes perform dynamic stretches before participating in our skill or performance clinics. These dynamic stretches are specific to the individual athlete’s sport and also the focus of each session. Static stretches are incorporated into our flexibility clinic as a means of recovery but these are only performed at the conclusion of an athlete’s workout. Dynamic stretching has been found to be more beneficial than static stretching and should be the ideal method of stretching prior to any athletic event.