Have you ever been in the gym and someone looked as if they were stuck in a weird position. Perhaps you thought that they were frozen after having the worlds biggest cramp, or maybe you thought that they were practising yoga. Despite these, the most likeliest thing a person would be doing is stretching.
Stretching provides a broad range of benefits before and after exercise. Stretching can be broken down into two categories; static and dynamic. Static stretching is when an individual stays a certain position for a period of time, allowing a targeted muscle to be stretched to its limit. Dynamic stretching involves movement, opposed to static. More movement encourages the use of more muscle groups and ensures more blood flow to targeted muscles.
Static stretching example
Dynamic stretching example
Static stretching is proven to increase flexibility (Livestrong, 2017). Flexibility is achieved through the adaption of being able to stretch further than a particular muscle could originally. Becoming more flexible will allow muscles to have a larger range of motion, decreasing the chances of injury. Static stretching, however, should be done after exercise as it is proven to decrease performance if done right before training as muscles are slightly damaged when stretching is done (nhs.uk, n.d.).
Important rule: Dynamic stretching before training, static stretching after training.
Dynamic stretching, unlike static, should be done before exercise as it increases blood flow to certain muscles, therefore increasing performance (fitday, n.d.). The constant movement in dynamic stretching not only loosens tight muscles but also forces large volumes of blood to particular muscle groups. This increases muscle performance as more oxygen is present in the blood stream, allowing more energy to be converted.
Static and Dynamic stretching are both useful tools that are able to increase your overall performance. Next time when you hit the gym or exercise, set aside time for stretching and you will see the tremendous effects.