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TIPS FROM THE PT: DYNAMIC OR STATIC STRETCHING?

By: Jay Johns, PT, DPT, OCS

Mobility and flexibility play an important role in the overall effectiveness of athletic performance, in many areas. Traditionally, two types of stretching exist for the elongation and improved flexibility of muscles. They are static stretching and dynamic stretching. Static stretching involves a low-level, sustained stretch, typically greater than 30sec at one time, and often repeated. Dynamic stretching incorporates active movement into the end range of the specific muscle’s length, without a sustained hold. Dynamic stretching is often part of a warm-up routine and intended to increase the blood flow and “warmth” within the muscle, which is thought to help improve muscle flexibility. Picture a young lady holding yoga poses, slowly moving into downward facing dog, and holding this pose for several seconds or minutes. This is a static stretch. Now, picture a football punter walking the sidelines and actively kicking his leg up into the air, as high as he can, slowly reaching higher with each kick. This is a dynamic stretching routine.
Which is more effective? Numerous studies show significant positive effects for static stretching for hamstrings and quadriceps. Comparisons of routines involving a traditional static stretching routine versus a warm-up of 10-15min, followed by static stretching, shows no difference between the two groups in terms of overall muscle length and flexibility. Within the studies, a 30 second stretch was held by the participants and repeated 3 times. This routine has been shown to effectively improved muscle flexibility for up to 24hrs and should be performed within 15 minutes of exercise. Utilizing a warm-up routine along with static stretching is not necessary to effectively increase muscle flexibility. Similar studies have been performed with increasing the duration of static stretch for up to 60 seconds, however, no improvement in flexibility or muscle length was shown with the additional 30 seconds of stretching, thus, conclusions have been drawn that 30 seconds is sufficient for muscle flexibility.
In comparison with dynamic stretching, studies have yet to show a significant difference in active muscle flexibility or injury prevention between the two. Additionally, muscle length has been shown to improve significantly with static stretching, when compared to dynamic stretching, for up to 24-hours. One study on dynamic and static calf muscle stretching yielded results of improvements in both groups for up to 24-hours, however, no significant difference in flexibility of the calf muscle or ankle angle over a 6-month period.
Conclusions? In terms of improving muscle flexibility for specific exercises, a static stretching routine, targeting the specific muscles you would like to improve, should be performed within 15-minutes of beginning the exercise routine, and held for up to 30 seconds at a time, repeated 2-3 times. With regards to previously mentioned studies regarding the non-significant differences between stretching alone and a warm-up with a stretch, this does not mean that a 10-15-minute warm-up period should not be utilized prior to beginning exercise. A warm-up routine may not help to improve muscle flexibility, but it has been shown to decrease the occurrence of muscle related injuries. In regards to long-term muscle flexibility, increasing the length of muscles for greater than a 24-hour period, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends a static stretching routine, as described above, repeated 2-3 times per day, for a total time of 20-30 minutes per day, 4-5 days per week.
1. The Effect of Static Stretch and Warm-up Exercise on Hamstring Length Over the Course of 24 Hours. JOSPT (2003).
Volkert C. de Weijer, MScPT, MTC, CSCS1
Gerard C. Gorniak, PT, PhD2
Eric Shamus, PT, PhD, CSCS3
2. The Effect of Static Stretching of the Calf Muscle-Tendon Unit on Active Ankle
Dorsiflexion Range of Motion. JOSPT (2003).
James W. Youdas, PT, MS 1
David A. Krause, PT, MBA, OCS2
Kathleen S. Egan, MPhil 3
Terry M. Therneau, PhD4
Edward R. Laskowski, MD5
3. The Effects of Static Stretching Exercises and Stationary Cycling on
Range of Motion at the Hip Joint. JOSPT (1984).
CHERYL L. HUBLEY, BPE, MSc,t
JOHN W. KOZEY, BSc, MSc,
WILLIAM D. STANISH, MD, FRCS (C)
4. The Effect of Static Stretch and Dynamic Range of Motion Training on the Flexibility of the Hamstring. JOSPT (1998).
William D. Bandy, PhD, PT, SCS, ATC’
lean M. Irion, MEd, PT, SCS, ATCZ
Michelle Briggler, MS, PT3
5. The Effects of Hamstring Stretching on Range of Motion: A Systematic Literature Review. JOSPT (2005).
Laura C. Decoster, ATC1
Joshua Cleland, DPT, OCS2
Carolann Altieri, PT3
Pamela Russell, PhD4
6. Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise. ACSM
Garber, Carol Ewing Ph.D., FACSM, (Chair); Blissmer, Bryan Ph.D.; Deschenes, Michael R. PhD, FACSM; Franklin, Barry A. Ph.D., FACSM; Lamonte, Michael J. Ph.D., FACSM; Lee, I-Min M.D., Sc.D., FACSM; Nieman, David C. Ph.D., FACSM; Swain, David P. Ph.D., FACSM

WOD:

Warm-up: 400m Run
20 Split Squat (no weight)
20 Push-ups
20 Hollow Rocks

T2B drills: Strict Leg Lift x5
Strict Knees Lift x5
Kipping Knee Lift x5
Knees to elbows x5
T2B x5

Mobility: Lax Ball or barbell x30 sec each: Forearms
Foam Roll x1 min each side: Lats

Strength: 1. DB walking lunges (4×6, rest 60sec)
2. Chin-ups (4×6-8, rest 60sec)
3. Weighted plank (x1:30 AHAP – accumulate)

Metcon: 5 Rounds
200m Run
15 T2B

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