Stretching in general is a hot topic for health care professionals. There seems to be a growing body of evidence supporting a dynamic warm-up prior to athletic activities, as opposed to static stretching. A dynamic warm-up is the process of performing controlled exercise drills designed to gently introduce the tissues in our body to a higher level of stress. The goal is injury prevention and improved performance. These exercises should be specific to the type of activity the individual plans to participate in. The number of warm-up activities and duration may also depend on the sport the athlete competes in.
So, what is static stretching, and how does it fit into the equation?
Static stretching is an activity where a joint or muscle group is held in a position for a set period of time (usually anywhere from 10 sec, up to 1-2 minutes), with the goal of lengthening the tissue and improving range of motion. Some research suggests that static stretching can temporarily weaken the connective tissues that make up our musculoskeletal system. In theory, this would place the athlete at a higher risk of injury during competition. It has been suggested that participants perform a dynamic warm-up prior to their activity, and gentle static stretching after, if tightness or stiffness develops. Static stretching should be gentle and pain free.
If you have questions regarding what dynamic warm-up to perform, or static stretches are right for you, talk to your family doctor or physical therapist.
About The Author: Jeremy W. Przybylo, PT, DPT, DMT is the Prairie Spine and Pain Institute’s lead physical therapist. He is a key component of our integrated care program. Jeremy works one-on-one with patients to perform an initial evaluation that allows him to design a comprehensive treatment program tailored to each individual. He typically works with patients weekly, utilizing a combination of hands on manual therapeutic techniques and a scientific approach to rehabilitative exercise.