Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching

Stretching before and after a run helps the body stay loose and healthy. Photo: Nils Nilsen

Learn when to employ which type of stretch.

Despite the fact that in recent years it has been in vogue to discredit the value of stretching, the combination of dynamic and static stretching—when used at the right time—can have a big impact on increasing flexibility and improving performance.

Dynamic movement stretches are designed to take a joint or a muscle through a challenging and repetitive motion, moving a body part further with each repetition. Reducing hip stiffness prior to starting a run or ride will reduce the risk of the dreaded overuse injury. Dynamic stretching is ideal prior to exercise to prepare the joints for movement and muscles for optimal activation.

Static sustained stretches are designed to hold a position for a joint or a muscle that is minimally challenging. The focus is on relaxing the body part being stretched and letting it go further on its own. Research suggests that holding the position for 30–60 seconds will increase flexibility in the tissue; conversely, done prior to activity, static stretching may actually inhibit the muscle’s ability to fire.

Do These Before You Run

Inchworms: Start in pushup position and walk your feet as close to your hands as possible. When you can’t go further, stop and walk your hands out in front to return to pushup. Come down on your stomach and arch your back up for a spine stretch.

Leg swings: Stand sideways next to a wall and swing your outside leg forward and back, increasing the height each time.

Walking lunge with twist: Perform deep walking lunges to stretch the hips, twisting torso away from the back leg.

RELATED: Stretching Exercises With Meb Keflezighi

Do These After You Run

Frog stretch: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Turn your toes out and squat down as low as possible, keeping your heels flat on the floor. Press your knees open with your elbows.

Quad stretch: While standing, grab the top of your right foot and bring it closer to your glutes while pushing the hips forward.

Pigeon: On the ground, bring a bent right leg in front of your body with your left leg behind you to stretch your glutes.

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