Do you stretch? Is it really that important? What is Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching?
Today we are taking a look at two types of stretching and how to perform them. I started running in 2006 and would sit in my driveway doing a sit and reach to touch my toes and then off I went. I look back and cannot believe, knowing what I know about our muscle fibers now, that I actually did that! I am lucky that I did not end up injured but I am sure this affected my overall performance.
Dynamic Stretching by definition is active movement of muscles that bring forth a stretch but are not held in an end position. I like to describe this type of stretch as a movement that prepares your muscles for the upcoming active movement. If you are sitting and stretching then you better hope that you are sitting during your activity…make sense? The stretching that most of us are accustomed to is the stretch and hold technique. This type of stretching is called Static Stretching and should be used post-workout which prepares your body for more sedentary activities. The benefits of stretching and increased flexibility are endless! Regular stretching prevents injury but more importantly creates a balance between muscular strength and muscular flexibility which in turn maintains proper joint alignment and posture. My favorite aspect of stretching is the relaxation and stress relief increasing the blood flow to those muscles that are tight and stimulating the nervous system which decreases stress hormones and tension in the body! Don’t we all need a little more stress-relief in our busy lives?
So lets get to the good stuff! How do we accurately perform these types of stretches?
Dynamic Stretch #1: Lunge With A Lean
This dynamic stretching exercise helps loosen up your psoas and hips, while engaging your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and even calves. You will lunge maintaining appropriate posture of your front leg at 90 degrees and back straight while raising the opposite arm of the front leg and leaning with your upper body toward the front leg.
Dynamic Stretch #2: High Knees
This dynamic stretch brings relief to your lower back as well as increases balance and coordination. It will assist in lengthening your glutes and hamstrings. Grab your knee with hand clasped together and squeeze toward your chest. To add an additional calf stretch, raise your planted foot off the ground in a calf raise at the same time.
Dynamic Stretch #3: Straight Leg Kick to Reach
The straight leg kick can be performed standing in place or while walking. This is a great dynamic stretch that works on your hamstrings as well as core stability. Begin by kicking your leg
Try these dynamic stretches before an activity and notice how your muscles feel and how your performance improves!
Static Stretch #1: Abdominal Plank
The plank stretches your abdominal and back muscles. Lay face down on the ground and then lift your body off of the ground. Support yourself with your forearms and toes only. Hold your abdominal muscles tight by sucking in and contract your glutes. This position will be held for 10 seconds and then relax, completing several times.
Static Stretch #2: Calf Stretch
The calf stretch begins by facing a wall and placing your hands on the wall. Then place one leg to the rear while keeping it straight and the other leg will stay close to the wall in a slightly bent position.
Static Stretch #3: Runners Stretch
This is a wonderful static stretch to open the hips and stretch the quads, hamstrings and calves. Perform a deep lunge allowing your knee to go over your toe, keeping your back heel pressing toward the ground and chest high.
Just remember, stretching is a crucial aspect of your overall health! Dynamic and static stretches have there time and place. Be healthy! Be injury-free! Be the best YOU!
– Health Coach Aprille