Dynamic Vs Static stretching: What is all the fuss about?

Monday, July 02, 2018
featured image



With the temperatures outside plummeting, we can’t help but worry about all of you sporting people out there, training and playing games in the cold. If there’s ever a time to discuss sporting-preparation techniques for the body, it’s now!


The importance of a warm up is well documented, but as to what type of stretching you should do after your warm up? That’s still highly debated. Here’s the general consensus, from the research articles we found online.

What actually is ‘Static stretching’ and ‘Dynamic stretching’?

Doing some kind of aerobic exercise if imperative before doing stretching of any kind. In fact, if you went hard out stretching either statically or dynamically without warming the body up with some jogging, running or cycling first, it would be a recipe for disaster. Don’t be afraid to get a good 5 – 10 mins of gentle cardio exercise in before your stretches begin.

Static stretching

A static stretch is performed by placing muscles at their greatest possible length and holding that position for a period of time. For all intents and purposes, we are going to stick with the most common agreement that this is 3 repetitions of stretch, (to a point of mild discomfort) per muscle group (e.g. calf muscles) held for between 30 to 60 seconds, then repeated on the other side.

Dynamic stretching

This involves getting the muscle/s to stretch by gradually increasing the ‘end range’ of the muscle’s ability. You do so by performing a movement in a smooth controlled manner, repetitively for 30 to 60 seconds.
Take your leg for example. ‘Leg swings’ involves moving the leg from its neutral position to end range, (where the muscles are at their greatest length) and then moving the leg back to its original position.


“Why should I warm up / stretch anyway?”


Doing an aerobic warm-up has been proven to improve sporting performance time and time again. Stretching is an additional component which has been added to a pre-exercise routine to prevent injury, increase flexibility can further enhance physical performance.

Warming up helps the muscles in a number of ways:

  • Increases muscle flexibility
  • Increases muscle recovery after use
  • Increases conduction of nerves (so the muscle can activate more quickly)
  • Warms the muscle up – better temperature for energy processes / exchanges to take place.
  • Reduces post-activation times (muscle is ready to fire again, quicker)
  • Increased firing frequency of muscle fibres = increased rate of force development.
  • Junction between the muscle and tendon becomes more flexible.
  • Decrease muscle stiffness from your previous work-out!
The type of sport you do is also important in choosing your stretches
Warm-up activities which mimic actions of your chosen type of exercise are also thought to enhance performance.
Dynamic stretching is better for optimising power, sprint and jumping. Sprinting and bounding type dynamic stretches are thought to increase muscle activation when compared to static stretching and slow running. Good for: weight lifting, sprinting, jumping sports.
Dynamic stretching followed by static stretching has been shown to increase jumping ability in particular. BUT, if you do static stretching before dynamic stretching, it actually reduces jumping ability!
Static stretches are essential for sports which require flexibility – e.g. a goal keeper stretching out for the ball in soccer, or a gymnast holding the splits. Wrestling, BJJ and martial arts, figure skating and swimming all also rely on good flexibility for your best performance and avoiding injury.
Interesting facts from our research:
  • Static stretching can negatively affect immediate physical performance. But it does give you much better, and more prolonged flexibility compared to dynamic stretching. So if you to a sport where you are stretching or reaching and need to be flexible, static stretching is best for you.
  • Dynamic stretching positively impacts immediate physical performance. So if you’re going to be running about a lot, dynamic stretching is the type which will help you play at your best. (Dynamic stretching can still improve flexibility, but not as much as static).
  • For 15 minutes after stretching, flexibility is increased, but not for long afterwards. So if you’ve already done your warm-up, and are sat on the side-lines for a while, it’s best to do a few minutes of aerobic, followed by dynamic stretches / static stretches again prior to participating (which type depends on your sport).
It is worth mentioning here that a lot of the results from these studies are said to be statistically significant at 1% increase in muscle power / activation, etc. So for all of us recreational athletes, it will make a slight but beneficial difference, and might stop us from being out of action due to injury. For professional athletes like Usain Bolt, 1% improvement of speed / power / explosiveness over a 100m race could just make all the difference…..


Effects of dynamic and static stretching within general and activity specific warm-up protocols

Samson, M., Button, D., C., Chaouachi A., Behm, D., G.

Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2012) 11, 279-285 http://www.jssm.org

Accessed online on: 29th June 2018


The effect of warm-up, static stretching and dynamic stretching on hamstring flexibility in previously injured subjects

O'Sullivan, K.,, Murray, M., Sainsbury, D.

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2009, 10:37 doi:10.1186/1471-2474-10-37

Accessed online on: 29th June 2018



Dynamic versus static stretching exercises for increasing muscular power and strength in adult recreational or professional athletes.

Students: Williams, B., Windsor, J., Wittwer, V., Wundke, J., Wong, T.

The International Centre for Allied Health Evidence ( iCAHE) Accessed online on: 29th June 2018

Copyright © 2018 ThreeSixty Osteopathy.
Website maintained by The Caper Web Solutions.