Are You Stretching Properly?

What is your goal when performing a stretching routine?  Are you wishing to increase range of motion or warm up before activity?

There are many modes of stretching out there and a purpose behind each one.  A few that you may have heard of include static, passive, dynamic, ballistic, and PNF.  The one I will be discussing in this article is dynamic.  

Dynamic stretching is defined as a type of sports fitness routine in which momentum and active muscular effort are used to stretch and the end position is not held.  This involves active motions that gradually increase in speed and range of motion.  Good examples include arm circles; leg swinging and rapid knee lifts.  Dynamic stretching increases range of motion as well as increases core temperature, which helps the muscles warm up.

Dynamic stretching has been found to improve performance in high intensity activities.  One research study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning (2006) looked at dynamic stretching versus static stretching versus non-stretching and its effect on power and agility performance.  The study found that performance was enhanced in the group that utilized the dynamic warm up exercises.   The bottom line is that dynamic stretching is great for warm up before sport and recreational activities.  I recommend static stretching during your cool down period.  

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John R. Thomas, PT, DPT, OCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Orthopedic Certified Specialist

Alex Goldenring