You might not be looking for a physio in the Massey area right now but if you don’t warm up properly before you head out for a walk or run, you soon will be! As we’re being slowly released from our bubbles, there could be a strong urge to just get out there and get into it. The team at Physio Connect recommends you take your time and do some decent stretching first.
There are two types of stretches: dynamic and static. As the name suggests, dynamic stretching involves a lot of movement. You repeatedly move your muscles and joints through a full range of motion. Dynamic stretches are what you’ll see athletes doing before the starter’s gun: they’ll often mimic the movements their muscles and joints will go through in their sport or activity but in a slower and often more exaggerated way. These controlled and deliberate movements warm up the body, improve flexibility and help reduce the risk of injury. They can include walking lunges, jump squats, high knee marching and arm circles.
On the other hand, a static stretch is a much more stationary affair. It involves stretching your muscle to the point where you might feel a small degree of discomfort, but you should never feel pain. The static stretch can be held for varying lengths of time, usually between 15 and 30 seconds. Typical static stretches work the hamstrings, calves, shoulders and back. As you do stretch to the point of discomfort, it’s best to seek expert advice when embarking on a routine of static stretches.
Knowing when to do which type of stretch is important. Dynamic stretches are best done before you get active, as they’ll prepare your body for the movements you’re about to make. They’ll lift your heart rate and body temperature, which will let your muscles move more efficiently. Plus, dynamic stretches will get your nervous system into gear, so the brain better connects with your muscles. No activity can be labelled as a mindless exercise, so when brain and body are in sync, your workout is much more effective.
Research shows that static stretching before an activity can actually reduce your strength and power. That’s why it is better to perform static stretches afterwards when your muscles are still supple and warm. This can reduce muscle tension and soreness by elongating the muscle and increasing blood flow.
A decent stretching routine before and after your activity is also important in injury prevention. The better you stretch, the less you’ll need us! For advice on stretching safely, contact the team at your nearest Physio Connect clinic.