We all know that stretching is important to keep our muscles strong, flexible, and healthy. In our quest to stay fit and lean, flexibility is often overlooked, yet it is an essential component of fitness. So, what’s the best way to stretch and when?

Several studies suggest that dynamic stretching is more beneficial than static stretching in certain physical activities. To differentiate between the two, dynamic stretches are active movements where joints and muscles go through a full range of motion. They usually mimic the motion of the activity or sport you are about to perform. For example, one of the stretches involves arm circles, which is a typical move for swimmers. Another instance is lunges, where soccer players can lunge for the ball.

Dynamic stretching will help your muscles become accustomed to the exercise or sport you will do. Specifically, if you are an athlete, weightlifter, or runner, you should do dynamic stretches before your activity. Experts say they may be more beneficial when warming up before a workout to improve performance and reduce our risk of injury. 

On the other hand, static stretches are where muscles are extended and held for some time. Some examples include triceps, quadriceps, and hamstring stretches. Although it does not involve active movement, static stretching is more beneficial for exercises involving flexibility such as gymnastics, ballet, and yoga. It can also be useful for cooling down after a workout,  as it will lower your core temperature and help reduce muscle tightness and cramping.

Overall, both types of stretches have their advantages. In either case, most of us do not do enough stretching, so by adding some daily stretching into our lives, we can improve performance, decrease pain and stiffness and reduce our risk of injury.

Check out these video examples of dynamic stretches for specific activities.

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