Why You Should Stop Static Stretching—And What You Should Do Instead 

Oct 13, 2022 | Uncategorized

Static Stretching is when you hold a stretch for a given amount of time (up to 45 seconds), often in sets, without moving. You might do this standing, sitting, or lying down. For decades, people have included static stretching in their warm-up and cooldown routines to increase the flexibility of specific muscles and reduce the risk of injury. 

Science, however, is proving that there are temporary downsides to static stretching that impact performance—and may even increase the risk of injury! So, let’s take a closer look at how static stretching affects your body.

Reduces Power and Strength

Static stretching temporarily reduces the potential of the muscles that have been stretched. This is a serious downside for athletes who require “explosive” power to compete, like in sprinting. Static stretching might even be enough to rob you of your “edge” for up to 24 hours.

It also reduces your strength endurance—your ability to sustain muscle tension over a long period of time like in rowing. Simply put, you can perform more efficiently for longer if you don’t include static stretching in your warm-up routine.

Slows Down Reaction and Movement Time

Static stretching reduces your reaction time. This isn’t always easy to detect, but if you consider the quick reflexes required for certain sports (like football), you’ll understand how crucial this aspect of fitness is for some athletes. Unfortunately, this side effect has a ripple effect and can hinder your performance in other ways too.

Decreases Balance

While warm-up routines are essential, intense static stretching before exercise can impair your balance as it slows down the response time of the muscles that were stretched. This temporary negative impact increases the risk of injury.

However, you don’t need to rule out static stretches altogether, you just need to change where they are featured in your fitness routine. Static stretching can increase the flexibility (or range of motion) of a specific muscle or muscle group. But targeted stretches like these are beneficial AFTER the sport or activity, during the cool-down period—where impaired performance won’t matter.

When it comes to your fitness and health, it’s important to use the latest findings to guide your decisions. You already know that warming up before sports or exercise is vital, so let’s find out more about healthy warm-ups and stretching.

What You Should Do Instead of Static Stretching

Warm-ups are still an essential part of your exercise routine. Warm muscles are less likely to pull or tear, which reduces the risk of injury.

So what does a healthy warm-up look like? A good warm-up prepares the body for exercise without hindering its potential. The safest and most effective warm-ups include the following.

Mild Aerobic Activity 

This includes gentle cardio exercise. To prepare for a sprint, it might look like 5-10 minutes of brisk walking. For a long swim, it might look like a couple of laps of slow swimming. The intensity and duration will depend on your fitness level. 

Dynamic Stretches

These are stretches that involve movement like jumping jacks, swinging your arms, or side and forward lunges.

Be careful with dynamic stretching—you can easily overdo it! One to two sets are enough to warm up your muscles. More than that can lead to fatigue and reduced performance (what you’re trying to avoid). 

Relevant Drills

Have you noticed batsmen hitting imaginary balls as they head to the crease in cricket?

One of the best ways to warm up your body is to do drills relevant to the sport or activity about to take place. This guarantees that the muscles about to work are ready to perform. It also mentally prepares you for the hard work ahead.
To find out more about healthy warm-ups and how to reach your maximum potential without doing any harm, get in touch with a chiropractor! Book your FREE discovery call here: BOOK NOW