Static Stretching 101
Regular stretching is essential for maintaining flexibility — but many of us don’t do it nearly as often as we should.
Often, the longer we go without stretching, the more we put it off. It makes sense: Who wants to stretch when they feel super stiff? The reality is, you can make gains back in the flexibility department, and all it takes is a few minutes each day.
Not only will you experience less pain and tightness, but you’ll relax your nervous system and ease stress at the same time. There are two main types of stretching, dynamic and static, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on static stretching (check out our blog post on dynamic stretching here).
Below, our very own trainer, Rachel Kemp at Supreme Sports Club, breaks down the basics and shares three simple static stretches you can try at home.
What is static stretching?
It probably comes as no surprise that when we skimp in the stretching department, our muscles shorten and tighten. But you may be surprised to learn that tightened muscles are actually weaker muscles.
This isn’t just problematic for gymnasts and other athletes. Everyone is vulnerable to the injuries that can occur as a result of tight and weakened muscles, such as joint pain and strains. Daily stretching lowers your risk of injury by keeping your muscles long, lean and flexible.
Flexibility has an important impact on your overall fitness, especially considering the fact that it enhances your range of motion. This means you can move more safely and efficiently without making compensatory motions. Everything is connected, so this, in turn, improves your mobility, coordination, posture, and overall ability to stay independent into an advanced age.
While you won’t see results from stretching overnight, you’ll definitely begin to see the benefits within weeks. These can include:
- Greater flexibility and range of motion
- Reduced pain and stiffness
- Increased circulation
- Faster post-workout muscle recovery
- Decreased levels of stress
Before you get started with a stretching routine, it’s important to understand the difference between the two kinds of stretches, and when to use both.
Dynamic stretching is an active stretch used to improve range of motion — for instance, bodyweight lunges. These are best for warming up before a workout. Static stretches don’t involve movement; rather, these involve holding a stretch for a certain amount of time to release tension and elongate muscles.
“Static stretches should be done after long periods of inactivity, like sitting at your computer all day, or after a workout to help your muscles recover,” said Kemp. “It’s best to hold each stretch for 30 seconds to one minute.”
3 static stretches to try at home
Here are three simple yet effective stretches, courtesy of Kemp, that you can try at home or at the gym!
Great way to open your arms and shoulders, and improve your posture.
Lengthens your hip flexors and quadriceps, great for after long periods of sitting.
Releases tightness in the hips, glutes and lower back.
Stretch it out with CA
Wherever you’re at on your fitness journey, CA is here to help. Check out our website to learn more about our three fitness clubs, which offer state-of-the-art equipment, group fitness classes and personal training programs (including virtual options).