The sports and fitness definition of flexibility is the ability of your muscles and joints to effectively move through their full range of motion (ROM). We don’t need to tell you this (ya already know) – but increasing your flexibility has many benefits, including stress reduction and injury prevention.
According to an article in Men’s Fitness, many athletes are sidelined from sports and fitness activities because they neglect to stretch on a regular basis. While you might not be competing in the big leagues, you want to stretch the right way and frequently so you can always make it to whatever class you want to take.
During a dynamic stretch, the active muscles and joints are taken through a (sometimes) challenging and repetitive movement. With each repetition, you should feel that your ROM increases slightly. Examples of dynamic stretching movements that are used during a boot camp or strength training class warmup include:
- Walking lunges with torso rotation
- Traveling high kicks
- Hand walkouts to a pushup
A yoga vinyasa sequence will take your body through full ROM as well. Flowing from forward fold to plank and downward dog helps elevate your core temperature, activates your core and prepares your body for more strenuous activity.
When you perform a static stretch, you hold a position for a muscle or joint that is mildly uncomfortable but not painful for 30 to 60 seconds. At some time we have all done static stretches for the muscles of the upper and lower body with the intention of preventing injury and getting our body ready to work. An article in Time magazine refers to a study that says that static stretches may inhibit your strength and speed during physical activities if done at the beginning of the workout. Static stretching is more appropriate at the end of your workout.
When comparing static vs dynamic stretching, dynamic stretching is better.
Dynamic stretching wins hands down. The activity is more challenging and can help you start burning calories as well as preventing injury. Save the static stretches for the end of your workout after you foam roll. Whatever you do, make sure you always remember to stretch.