Too many options and not enough information can lead to confusion when it comes to what’s right for your body. Paleo vs. Vegan, high reps vs. low reps, dynamic stretching vs. static stretching, Edward vs. Jacob; which one do you choose?
Fortunately, the differences between stretching strategies aren’t that complicated, and after reading this article, you’ll understand the best time for each style of stretch and which stretch could potentially be doing you more harm than good.
What’s the Difference Between Dynamic Stretching and Static Stretching?
The basic difference between static stretching and dynamic stretching can be found in their respective titles:
- Static – Holding a stretch for long periods, compared to dynamic stretching, to lengthen the muscle.
- Dynamic – Involves moving in and out of the stretched position multiple times to simulate the nervous system and prepare the muscles for sports like performance.
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As dynamic stretching only involves brief periods in a lengthened position, along with movement, they are the perfect stretch for your warm up. Conversely, static stretches are generally not suited as part of your warm up due to their potential to decrease strength, create excess laxity and inhibit muscular performance in the exercises to come.
PNF – A Better Substitute for Static Stretching
To be honest, hanging out in a static stretch may not be the best method for improving length in your muscles. Imagine your muscles are rubber bands. The more you hold a rubber band at an extreme point, the more its length will increase. The problem here is as length increases; elasticity decreases eventually leaving the band weak and floppy.
A good rubber band needs strength to be able to pull it back into shape, and so do your muscles. If your muscles are extremely flexible but have no strength in a stretched position, it can lead to some serious injuries like:
- Muscular tears
- Unstable joints
- Ruptured ligaments
- Joint dislocations
To improve your strength and control in stretched positions, it‘s best to substitute static stretching for PNF stretching.
How to do PNF Stretching
PNF stretching is easy. All it involves is:
- Stretch the muscle
- Contract the stretched muscle to provide resistance against the stretch – hold for 5 to 10 seconds
- Relax and hold that stretch statically for 10 seconds
- Take the stretch a little further now – you will be able to – and repeat the cycle
PNF stretching can be performed at any time and provides amazing benefits:
- Warm up Before Workout – Activate stabilizer muscles and the nervous system
- During Your Workout – Continue to activate stabilizers and improve mobility
- Outside of Your Workout – Improve flexibility, strength, mobility and neuromuscular activation