Static vs. Dynamic: When to Use and Why
When looking at how some teams warm up before a game or a practice, you’ll see a few differences:
- None at all, just throwing
- Little movement, then right to throwing
- Little stretching, then right to throwing
- A lot of stretching, then right to throwing
- A little movement and a little stretching, then right to throwing
I think it’s safe to say that the first 3 bullet points are how not to warm up. However, I want to dive deeper into the last 2 bullet points because this offers a valid argument for when and why to use each method.
I’ve posted previously that there is a debate with the practical use of static stretching. Some professionals say we shouldn’t use it because it will make us slower, and some are using it way too much and saying mobility is everything.
I’ve quickly learned that if you are at an EXTREME end of the continuum, you’re probably wrong more times than not.
In one of my previous posts, I’ve noted that static stretching of the upper limbs does not effect throwing velocity and/or accuracy.
We use static stretching as a means of increasing joint range of motion (ROM). In throwing, you need a ton of ROM in your shoulder in order to throw hard(er).
Let’s say you do some static stretching and then throw. In my opinion, this is completely fine because:
- since throwing is the most DYNAMIC movement in all of sports, you’re going to need to throw as part of your “warmup”.
- As a result of the static stretching, maybe your first few throws aren’t fast. Woop-dee-doo.
- After your WARMUP throws, then you start to dial it in when it matters the most.
Some research shows that stretching at near-maximal tolerance can increase joint range of motion (ROM) and decrease passive stiffness in surrounding musculature and musculotendinous junctions .
In the throwing motion, there’s a fine line between needing mobility and stability/stiffness. By clearing up some stiffness in the wrong places, this could make your arm action and patterning a lot easier to maintain.
Other research has considered the total duration of static stretching. When the total volume of stretching was controlled for, the group that stretched intermittently (30s with 30s of rest), rather than stretching continuously for 90 seconds, saw no decrease in vertical jump performance .
I personally believe we still don’t have enough research out there to determine anything in regards to static stretching.
What I do is that dynamic movement will “cancel” any negative outcomes from static stretching. In fact, maybe it is more beneficial because you can activate movement patterns from newly accessed ROM.
Rather than saying static stretching is completely evil, let’s cover another study that I found to be interesting.
A group of nationally-ranked sprinters performed 5 minutes of running with either static stretching or dynamic stretching.
The results showed that the group who performed static stretching with the running saw an increase in single-leg stabilization. Results were similar in the group who performed just running, and running with a dynamic stretch .
As mentioned previously, we do need some level of stiffness for athletic performance. However, it’s that fine line between stiffness and mobility.
This shows us that we still don’t know all the answers, and that’s okay!
My biggest thing is taking small steps to make big improvements. These small steps include:
- performing both a static and dynamic warmup, and knowing when to use which modality appropriately
- doing JUST one or the other will not provide the best outcome for the athlete. Create new ROM, activate the new ROM, and let your nervous system LEARN from these new patterns to create a new and better athlete slowly over time
Much like anything else, it’s important to take a holistic approach to anything. Pick and choose from multiple modalities, and apply which is best for the individual.
Jarad Vollkommer, CSCS
- Katauara, S., Suzki, S., Matsuo, S., Hatano, G., Iwata, M., et al. (2017). Acute effects of the different intensity of static stretching on flexibility and isometric muscle force. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 31(12), 3403-3410.
- Bogdaris, G.C., Donti, O., and Tsolakis, C. (2017). Intermittent but not continuous static stretching improves subsequent vertical jump performance in flexibility-trained athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
- Romero-Franco, N., Parraga-Montilla, J.A., and Molina-Flores, E.M. (2018). Effects of combining running and practical duration stretching on proprioceptive skills of national sprinters. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.