Bumps and bruises, they’re not a matter of “if” but rather “when”. Seeking relief, many practitioners seek relief from various creams-rubs-and tapes, but often overlook one of the most effective (and cheapest) methods of relieving pain…stretching. Not only can stretching actually improve your performance during workouts, it can indeed preclude many injuries that occur thru strenuous activities. However, not just any kind of stretching will do. Between the two main types of stretching; Static and Dynamic, there are specific benefits to each and specific conditions under which each should be used.
Static Stretching is by far the most commonly well known and widely used type of stretching, it involves long, slow and constant movement with the end position being held. The ease of this movement to both demonstrate and execute has led to it being taught to even children in primary school(s). One of the main benefits of Static stretching is its ability to increase flexibility in individuals. The problem occurs however, when people attempt to use Static stretching as a means of warming up before a workout. Think of your muscles as a rubber band, now put that rubber band in the refrigerator for a few hours. When you take it out, it’s pretty stiff and hard to stretch right? The same principle applies to your muscles, they need to be warm before they can stretch and contract like you want. The best time to utilize Static stretching is AFTER a workout, when your muscles are mostly in need relaxation. Your high body temperature coupled with warm and pliable tissue make a perfect environment to increase flexibility, in addition to decreasing lactic acid build up in your muscles. Static stretching allows your muscles to relax, while also fighting off cramps due to dehydration and sweat loss.
Standing in direct contrast is Dynamic Stretching. Dynamic stretching is a great precursor to an intense workout, as the movement involved actually primes the body for activity. Rather than the “sit and hold” base that comprises Static stretching, Dynamic stretching is done through movement and momentum. Arm rotations forward and backward, karaoke, leg swings…basically the warmup movements in a typical Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. Beyond raising your heart rate and increasing circulation, these movements serve to increase pliability in major muscle groups. Remember the rubber band? Now imagine that you take it out of the freezer and slowly begin stretching it out and releasing it. Before long it’s just as stretchable as it ever was, and is none the worse for wear. The movement in Dynamic stretching serves to help loosen muscle and tendon alike, leading to both longer workouts and less injuries. Prior to activity it’s hard to beat Dynamic stretching, the many benefits it offer make it a staple for the avid grappler.
By: Kenneth Page