Static vs Dynamic Stretching

Back in high school our coaches always made up “stretch” and warm up before activities.  Sometimes we held and other times we bounced.  What is the difference?


What is Static Stretching? Static stretching is when you hold a stretch for about 20-30seconds. Static Stretching has often been the go-to for warming up. Most people who have played any kind of sport have done hamstring stretches, or the classic “grab your foot behind you” quad stretch. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that static stretching improves sporting performance. In fact, it actually makes the stretched muscle weaker for about 15 minutes.

What is Dynamic Stretching?Dynamic stretches are stretches such as leg swings, high knees, and arm swings. The idea behind dynamic stretching is that it stretches the muscle actively, by doing a movement rather than holding a position. There is also little evidence that dynamic stretching does anything to improve sporting performance.

With all that being said, another study has shown that athletes doing whatever they perceived to be significant for warmups, even if there was zero actual evidence that it helped, helped them perform better. So, the Placebo Effect really does work!

Ultimately, if you enjoy stretching or feel it helps you, then go for it! Just don’t over-do it and try to stack it at the front end of your warm up so that by the time you get to the actual activity, any potential muscle weakening has worn off.

Andrew Vertson

Physical Therapist at Intecore Physical Therapy
Andrew received his Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science from California State University, Fresno in 1991. He then earned his Master’s degree of Physical Therapy in 1996 and his Doctorate degree of Physical Therapy in 2002 from Loma Linda University. In 1996 he also earned his Certification as an Athletic Trainer. He has also completed extensive post-graduate course work in orthopedic manual therapy through Kaiser-West Los Angeles and the Ola Grimsby Institute.
Andrew Vertson

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