Should you stretch before or after a workout?
Warming up effectively will increase blood flow to muscles, prime joints and tendons, and lower the risk for injury. So, let’s settle the debate: what’s the best way to accomplish this, dynamic or static stretching?
October 6, 2023 | Claire Petri, CPT
Why limber up? A proper warm up will signal to your muscles that they are about to be called into action. Warming up effectively will increase blood flow to muscles, prime joints and tendons, and lower the risk for injury. So, let’s settle the debate: what’s the best way to accomplish this, dynamic or static stretching?
The difference between dynamic and static stretching is all about movement. Dynamic stretching is controlled movement, with the goal of taking the body through its full range of motion. These maneuvers often mimic the functional movements that will be performed during the workout. Some benefits of dynamic stretching include an increased range of motion in muscles and joints, improved blood flow, and mind-muscle connection. When a proper dynamic warm up is implemented, we also see superior muscle engagement and strength gains.
A noteworthy example is the World’s Greatest Stretch. When performed correctly, this movement effectively mobilizes the thoracic spine, hips and ankles!
Image courtesy of MindBodyGreen.
Static stretching is also extremely beneficial! However, this is best used in the cool down portion of the workout. For this style of stretching, muscles are held in an elongated position for 30 seconds or longer. Static stretching will increase flexibility, help prevent muscular soreness in the days following a workout, and will have long term effectiveness in reducing the risk of muscle strain injuries. When paired with breathwork, static stretching at the end of a workout will signal a physiological cool down response in the body, allowing heart rate to slow and blood pressure to return to pre-exercise levels. Talk about effective movement from start to finish!
Claire Petri, CPT, is a personal trainer based in Greenwich and Darien who specializes in strength training and functional fitness. She enjoys working with both athletes and general population clients, and has experience with Pilates techniques, weight loss and pain management, helping clients overcome gym anxieties and learning proper movement patterns.