Static vs. Dynamic Stretching - Which One is Better?

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: November 24, 2023
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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, promoting mobility and improving performance.
  • Static stretching is better suited for the cool-down phase, helping to relax muscles and improve flexibility.
  • Incorporating both dynamic and static stretching into your routine can enhance range of motion, body awareness, balance, and reduce the risk of injury.

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.

New research has suggested that static stretching does the exact opposite of dynamic stretching.

Apparently, 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.

On the other hand, static stretching is more appropriate for the cool-down process as it helps bring your muscles back to their pre-exercise length, helping prevent post-workout stiffness.

Dynamic Stretching

High stretch of lower body

Dynamic stretching promotes active mobility with sport-specific movements that move the 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

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 showed 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.

This allows for enhanced flexibility and mobility during physical activities. Incorporating dynamic stretches into your stretching routine can help you prepare your body for optimal performance and prevent muscle stiffness or tightness.

Practicing dynamic stretches is also said to increase flexibility, maximal muscle strength, speed, sprint, jump, and improve performance.

Actively moving the muscles improves blood flow circulation and increases muscle temperature, lowering resistance and improving flexibility.

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.

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.

Static stretching post-exercise is also beneficial, especially for lengthening the muscles you constricted during a weightlifting session. Additionally, this type of stretching helps relieve tension and relaxes your body.

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

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