Static vs. Dynamic Stretching - Which One is Better?

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Published by Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: January 27, 2024
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It’s no secret that dynamic and static stretching are an important part of any workout routine.

But to enjoy their benefits, you must know how and when to use these techniques. Otherwise, you might do yourself more harm than good.

To let you know of the best way to combine these stretches for optimal results, we spent the last few days poring through several published journals on exercise science and physical therapy.

Here’s what we discovered.

Quick Summary

  • Dynamic stretching is more beneficial as a warm-up before exercise, while static stretching is better suited for the cool-down phase.
  • Incorporating both dynamic and static stretching into your routine can enhance range of motion, body awareness, balance, and reduce the risk of injury.
  • A study found that incorporating dynamic stretching in a warm-up routine can reduce the risk of sports-related injuries by up to 65%, underscoring its effectiveness in injury prevention.
  • I believe dynamic stretching is essential for athletes to optimize performance and prevent injuries, while static stretching is key for post-workout recovery and flexibility.

Is Static Or Dynamic Stretching Better?

Woman stretching outdoor

Static and dynamic stretching serve different purposes and should be used at different times in your fitness regimen, so neither is better than the other.

Dynamic stretching has been shown to positively benefit a person’s speed, power, and agility.

Moreover, this strategy can greatly boost the ability of a muscle to generate force, making it the preferable choice for coaches and elite athletes who may also incorporate ballistic stretching as part of their warm-up routine.

Static stretching does the exact opposite of dynamic stretching.

This technique temporarily (but significantly) decreases the ability of a muscle to produce force.

And since static stretching is more of a relaxation movement, the muscles don’t get warmed up.

Therefore, dynamic stretching is better as an active warm-up routine because it uses controlled movements that effectively loosen your body and prepare your muscles for action.

From my experience, static stretching is a game-changer in the cool-down process. I always encourage my clients to engage in static stretches after their workouts. This practice has helped them significantly in reducing post-workout stiffness.

Dynamic Stretching

High stretch of lower body

From my experience as a fitness coach, I've seen how dynamic stretching effectively promotes active mobility. I often guide athletes through sport-specific movements that move their limbs through a near-full range of motion.

This strategy is done in a controlled manner and often mimics the activity or sport that is about to be performed.

To perform dynamic stretching, you must hold the end range of a movement for just a few seconds and repeat them around 10 to 12 times.

“[Dynamic stretching] helps rehearse the movement patterns so the muscles tend to get excited a little bit earlier and faster, which can help improve power and increase coordination.” - Anne Rex, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine

Benefits for Athletes

Doing dynamic stretches has been shown to enhance muscular performance, protect the body’s joints during activity, and prevent injury risk—benefits that are essential to both recreational and elite athletes.

In fact, one study published in JAMA Network has shown that 20 minutes of strength, balance, plyometrics, and other dynamic stretching exercises before practice resulted in a 65% reduction in gradual-onset injuries [1].

Although more thoughtful coordination is required in dynamic stretching than static stretching, it has gained popularity among coaches and athletes due to its many benefits.

In addition to injury prevention, dynamic stretching relieves tight muscles and improves overall flexibility. By actively moving the muscles, dynamic stretching improves blood flow and circulation, increases muscle temperature, and reduces resistance.

Check out the best stretches you can do before your workout.

Dynamic Stretch Examples

Woman doing walking lunges exercise

A few types of dynamic stretching include:

  • Torso twist
  • Arm circles
  • Shoulder rolls
  • Walking lunges
  • Leg swings
  • High kicks
  • Hip circles— but it’s a little different for most people.

The needs of runners, swimmers, basketball players or soccer players will be drastically different, so it’s best to get the recommendation of a licensed doctor for physical therapy before starting any dynamic stretching program.

Static Stretching

Standing hamstring stretch exercise

Static stretching is done by stretching a muscle or muscle group and holding it for a specific length of time, usually 30 to 90 seconds. The movements are then repeated two to four times.

I found this method has been particularly effective post-workout. For example, after a rigorous leg day, I focus on static stretches like the hamstring stretch, which has helped my clients in alleviating muscle tightness and enhancing recovery.

Static Stretching Examples

A woman doing posterior capsule stretch

The different types of static stretching include:

  • Posterior capsule stretch
  • Standing hamstring stretch
  • Quadriceps stretch
  • Calf stretch.

In recent years, research has shown that static stretching may actually decrease performance and muscular strength, which, in turn, increases the overall risk of injury as the body’s ability to stabilize and control motion also drops.

While it has fallen out of favor as a warming-up regimen, static stretching isn’t all bad. It’s still a very reliable method of stretching and increasing the range of motion of a joint.

That said, there’s still a place for static stretching in your workout routine.

You can include it in a short-duration stretch as part of a complete dynamic warm-up. Just make sure you hold the static stretch for around 15 to 30 seconds only, as going beyond that may negatively impact your performance.

Should You Do Dynamic Or Static Stretches First?

A woman in split position and stretching

You should do dynamic stretches first because they are a very effective way of preparing your muscles, ligaments, and soft tissues before strenuous activity.

In contrast, you should add static stretching at the end of your exercise session to improve the range of motion and relax your entire body.

Doing a static stretch is said to decrease your sympathetic nervous response and muscle tone, so you can move deeper into the stretch.

You can also add additional protocols like foam rolling, massage, or cold therapy in order to facilitate your recovery.

“Dynamic stretching before the workout to warm muscles and joints throughout their whole range of motion and static stretching at the end of the workout to speed up recovery and increase flexibility. In their own way, they both prevent injuries and increase performance.”

- Dr. Demetris Elia DC, CFMP

Learn More:

Specific Benefits for Different Sports

Dynamic stretching is better for explosive sports. For instance, basketball players and sprinters can greatly benefit from dynamic stretches as they prepare the muscles for rapid, intense bursts of activity.

These stretches, such as leg swings and walking lunges, actively warm up the muscles, increasing blood flow and enhancing muscle elasticity.

Static stretching is better for endurance sports. These sports require athletes to maintain high levels of flexibility to perform complex movements. Static stretches, such as the hamstring stretch or the butterfly stretch, are effective in improving long-term flexibility.

Age and Stretching Techniques

Older athletes can benefit significantly from static stretching routines. These stretches help maintain muscle length and flexibility, crucial for preserving a good range of motion and reducing the risk of muscle strains.

Gentle, static stretches, held for longer periods, are ideal for older athletes, as they are less strenuous and focus on maintaining flexibility rather than enhancing athletic performance.

Younger athletes, on the other hand, often require more agility and speed in their sports activities. Dynamic stretching is more suitable for this demographic as it prepares the body for the physical demands of high-energy sports.

These stretches improve muscle temperature and elasticity, which are essential for activities that require quick and powerful movements. Exercises like high knees, arm circles, and torso twists are excellent for young athletes to incorporate into their warm-up routines.


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About The Author

Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC is an ex-National Soccer player turned MMA and Kickboxing champion, with ACE CPT and PN1-NC certifications. His advice is rooted in education and experience, ensuring that readers receive scientific and battle-tested insights. His mission is to empower his clients and readers to realize their potential and become the best versions of themselves.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
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Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
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