OK, so warming up for your run is not a very sexy subject (chatting about the latest Asics or Garmin is much more fun). But being injured when you’re running is far less sexy. For the longest time, static stretching was seen as the best warm up prior to running (or any exercise). Recently however, a new style of warm up is gaining traction, and the old style may even be damaging to your body. This article will have a look at static vs dynamic stretching and just which one is better for you. Or maybe you should do both.

Static vs Dynamic Stretching- what’s the difference?

Let’s start off with a quick look at what each of these stretches are.

Static stretches

These are when you holding a pose for a fixed time (about 30-60 seconds) to stretch a joint or muscle.

Dynamic stretches

This kind of stretch is when you take a joint or muscle through a repeated action moving the body part a little further each time.

Check out the videos below to see some example warm ups and warm downs. These can be incorporated into your running or exercise routine to increase performance and help prevent injury.

So it’s OK to use both Static and Dynamic Types of Stretching?

In short yes.

It’s not really a case of static vs dynamic stretching. It’s more a matter of when is best to use them.
Dynamic stretching is suited to prior to exercise. It prepares the joints for movement and muscles for optimal activation. it is particularly beneficial because it focuses on a whole group of muscles at one time and prepare your body for any kind of sporting activity. They are simply a ‘must’ before your run.

Static type stretches conversely focus on one muscle at a time. They help relax the muscles and joints but are most effective when utilised after your run or workout. In fact, research suggests that static stretches prior to exercise may actually prevent muscles from firing correctly. Impeding your body’s performance and causing damage.

An effective and safe workout will include dynamic stretches as a warm up and static as a cool down.

Warming up prior to exercise

It’s tempting to go shooting out the door for quick run. Especially when you’re feeling like an experienced pro you think ‘I’ll be alright.”

But not warming up is an absolute recipe for disaster and injury.

This comprehensive video gives a great example of dynamic stretches you can do before your run.

Video: 21 Dynamic Stretching Exercises to help warm your up

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Cooling down after a run or workout

The use of a post exercise cool down has a number of benefits. The number one reason is to stop dizziness. By slowly cooling down you allow the blood vessels in your body to return to their normal resting size. This stops light-headedness.

Post- exercise stretches have another benefit though. By stretching well warmed up muscles you allow your flexibility to improve over time.

Unfortunately, the myth that cooling down stretches can remove post exercise aches has been disproved. However, if you build up extra flexibility in your body, those aches will get less.

This quick vid. shows some great lower body stretches you can use after your run.

Video: Some static stretch exercises to help cool down

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So we can see that the argument of static vs dynamic stretching is a matter of timing. You should be using both, one type before and one type after running or exercising.

If you have any tips or questions about warming up for your run- drop them in the comments below.

thanks to these posts for assistance in researching this article.