Static stretching involves no movement: you hold a stretch for time. Dynamic stretches improve your flexibility by moving around. Other types of stretching include ballistic stretching, PNF stretching, isometric stretching, …
A lot of people warm-up using static stretches. I’ve been advocating dynamic stretches for some time, blogging about hip, ankle and thoracic mobility. Here are 5 reasons why you shouldn’t do static stretches.
1. Static Stretches Impair Performance. Stay away from static stretches right before explosive movements like weight lifting, sprinting, jumping, etc. PubMed has plenty of research why, 2 examples:
- Decrease Vertical Jump Height. 10mins of static stretching decreases your vertical jump height for up to 15mins after the stretch.
- Increase Sprint Time. Static stretching inhibits the stretch reflex: the ability to store kinetic energy in your muscles during the eccentric.
Squatting down correctly stores energy in your hamstrings by stretching them. You can Squat more weight if you use this energy on the way up. But static stretches inhibit the stretch reflex, thereby lowering your Squat.
2. Static Stretches Don’t Lower Risks of Injury. They increase the range of motion you can attain, but not your ability to stabilize in these new positions. Excessive flexibility without strength increases risks of injury.
First thing you’ll tend to do if you get injured is stretching your injured limb. This can aggravate the problem rather than fix it. Example: excessive stretching of your hip flexors can irritate your joint capsule.
3. Static Stretches Don’t Reduce Soreness. Some people stretch post exercise to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If lifting caused DOMS, you’ll be sore the next day, whatever stretching you do.
The best way to get rid of soreness is to train your muscles again. This speeds up recovery by flushing blood (nutrients) into your muscles. Do light lifting or dynamic stretches if you’re sore. Contrast showers can also help.
4. Static Stretches Don’t Warm-up Your Muscles. Warm muscles are harder to injure than cold ones. Static stretches don’t raise your body temperature. You’ll have to add 10 mins stationary cycle or light jogging.
This method, however, doesn’t let you practice movements. So you lost 20 mins doing something that isn’t optimal while 10 mins dynamic stretching would have increased flexibility, raised body temperature and grooved motor patterns.
5. Static Stretches Don’t Put You in the Right State. To get best results from static stretches you must relax your whole body, release tension. That’s why static stretches, including yoga, are great to de-stress.
But they aren’t great to prepare yourself for heavy Deadlifts, sprinting, MMA or any other sports where you need to be fast, explosive and aggressive. You want to be fired up, not relaxed.
No More Static Stretches? The only thing static stretches are good for is fixing your posture. After a day sitting, the static hip flexor stretch is a great way to realign your pelvis while activating your glutes.
Most static stretches have a dynamic variation. Warm-up with soft tissue work, then 2-3 postural static stretches followed by 8-10 dynamic stretches. That’s what I do as warm-up. Let me know how you warm-up in the comments.