Updated: Apr 25
I bet you've heard a million times never to skip leg day, but the real performance killer is skipping your warm-up and cool-down routines, aka dynamic and static stretching.
Pre and post-workout routines are often overlooked due to time constraints, boredom, or simply a lack of awareness of their importance. Whether you're eager to jump into your workout, or don't think you need to warm up and cool down, take a few minutes to create these routines for better performance and injury prevention.
Dynamic vs. Static Stretching: What's the Difference?
The main difference between these stretching methods is their intent; dynamic stretches are typically performed before your workout to warm up your body, while static stretches are performed after exercise or on recovery days to maintain range of motion.
What is Static Stretching?
Static stretching is the most widely-known method of stretching. You hold still stretches for a period of time, primarily 15-30 seconds, and then repeat. You're generally focusing on a specific muscle group with each stretch to release tension and increase range of motion and flexibility in those muscles.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretches are active movements that constrict and expand your muscles and joints through a full range of motion. Unlike static stretches, dynamic ones are not held for any specific period of time. These stretches are performed at a slower pace than a workout in order to prep your body for more intense exercise. Dynamic stretches are functional and sport-specific, meaning certain movements can be more ideal than others in priming the body for a specific activity/sport. For example, if you're about to perform exercises that focus on the lower body, you might want to incorporate dynamic stretches that center around hip mobility.
When to Use Static vs. Dynamic Stretches
Although both static and dynamic stretches increase your range of motion, dynamic stretches are ideal for warming up and static stretches are ideal for recovery.
According to the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, static stretches have been found to be followed by an immediate decrease in strength (short-term), which can hinder performance and further the risk of injury during exercise. This highlights the benefit of utilizing static stretches post-exercise or on recovery days because muscles have the chance to relax and gain flexibility without strain afterward.
Meanwhile, dynamic stretches have been found to reduce stiffness, increase range of motion, and improve performance when implemented before exercise.
Dynamic Stretches to Try
Dynamic stretches are great to include in your warm-up routine before exercising. Fit Societe utilizes 3D dynamic stretches, meaning we perform dynamic stretches in all three planes of motion as we would naturally in everyday activities. Here are some examples!
In-Place Doorway 3D Dynamic Stretches
3D Dynamic Speed Warm-Up
Static Stretches to Try
These are common stretches you have probably heard of, or already include in your stretching routine. Utilize these after workouts or on recovery days!
Static Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
Kneel on the ground, on a towel or pad if needed, with the other leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Place your hands on your hips, keep your back straight, and move your hips forward until you feel a stretch. Make sure to squeeze your glutes and core! Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds; you will feel it in your thighs and glutes. Switch legs and repeat as much as needed.
Static Kneeling Hamstring Stretch
Kneel on one knee and extend the other leg straight outward. Keep your back straight, toes up, and gently lean or reach toward your toes, only reaching as far as comfortable. Hold this stretch for 15-30 seconds; you will feel it in your hamstrings. Switch legs and repeat as much as needed.
Pro tip: Alternate between these two static stretches in one motion for a dynamic stretch!
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Ariela Liberman is a Marketing Associate and a staff writer for Fit Societe, with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies. Born and raised in San Diego, she is a Southern California native with a passion for writing, digital marketing, health, and wellness.
Reviewed By: Scott Ryan, BS, CSCS, CF-L1, CF-W, BFRC
A professional coach who specializes in Applied Functional Science, Strength and Conditioning, CrossFit L1, and Olympic Lifting. He attended New England College in New Hampshire obtaining a bachelor's degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Biomechanics. He has a passion for injury prevention and coaching, as he was a collegiate athlete who suffered sports injuries. His goal is to get athletes back to optimal shape as well as prevent future injuries.