What it is? Benefits, and how to get started
What is Static Stretching?
Static stretching is the most effective form of stretching for loosening up your muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons, while also improving flexibility and range of motion. Static stretching, more commonly done at the end of a workout when your muscles are warm, is when stretches are held in place for a certain period of time, not moving.
What are the benefits of Static Stretching?
Static stretching is important, as it allows your body to extend to a much farther range of motion due to improved flexibility. When you stretch, you are moving your joints in various directions, in order to increase their individual range of motion. Since static stretching holds these positions for longer, it allows for more benefits including:
When you stretch, you are moving your joints in various directions, in order to increase their individual range of motion. Since static stretching holds these positions for longer, it allows for more benefits including:
- The muscles and surrounding tissue of the joint really loosen.
- It allows for the muscle fibers to lengthen and loosen. Due to stress, exercise, and other factors, most people’s muscle fibers are tightly woven together.
- Relieving this tightness, which decreases the overall pain and stiffness you will feel.
Static stretching also has important health benefits that you may not feel, but will have long term results:
- Stretching helps to improve circulation, so the longer you hold a stretch, the more blood flow will go to that muscle.
- This will help to feel less stressed, as your muscles relax.
3. Decreases Risk of Injury
Static stretching reduces the risk of injury, when it is done after exercise. The tighter a muscle is, and the smaller your overall range of motion is, the more likely you are to injure yourself:
- This could be doing daily tasks if you happen to accidentally go outside of that range of motion.
- It could also happen if you had a minor accident, like a slip, and your body did not have enough range of motion to adequately react, without putting major strain on certain muscles.
However, it is important that static stretching is only done when the body has been properly warmed up, or else it may cause injury to the muscles. This is because when your muscles are warm, they have much more give to them and are more likely to relax in held positions, rather than create small tears in the muscle.
When should you do Static Stretching?
Often overlooked because it does take time and consistency, static stretching can improve flexibility, increase range of motion, relieve pain and tension, reduce stress, and increase blood flow. Pretty amazing right? Static stretching should be done only in specific timeframes, in order to get the most out of it:
- After a workout when you are very warm.
- If you find yourself constantly injuring yourself due to lack of range of motion.
- You want to drastically improve your flexibility.
- You have very tight muscles due to repetitive motion or exercise.
- You play an intense sport or exercise frequently.
- You have to deal with chronic pain or tension.
- You have very high levels of stress and need to unwind.
Static Stretching Techniques
There are two kinds of static stretching: active and passive.
1. Active static stretching
Active static stretching is what you will have to do if you are doing your own stretching routine. All this means is that other muscle groups are engaged in order to hold the limb in the position it needs to feel a stretch. An example of this is when you do a standing quadricep stretch. Your standing leg is engaged to hold you upright, and your arms are engaged to hold the leg that is being stretched in place.
2. Passive static stretching
Passive static stretching is when someone else is holding your limbs in the positions necessary for the stretch, so your body can fully relax. Passive static stretching is a much more convenient way to stretch, as you will see better results much faster.
If you are unsure how to begin static stretching, don’t have time in the day to do it yourself, or would like to relax while someone else stretches you, there is a way to still get your static stretching in. Kika Stretch Studios, home of The Kika Method, offers one-on-one sessions with a certified stretch coach, where they will take you through a series of passive static stretching. The coach does all of the work for you, so all you have to do is relax and breathe.
What is the difference between Static and Dynamic stretching?
- Static stretching is used to relieve tension from muscles built-up from things like exercise.
- Static stretching is ideal for post-workout, because it will prevent muscle tension and injury that may form from the workout.
- Dynamic stretching is typically active movements and stretches that get your muscles ready for a workout, as it will warm you up and stretch you lightly at the same time.
- Dynamic stretching serves the purpose of giving your muscles the small range of motion you may need to complete a sport or exercise, without affecting your performance.
Here are examples of Static and Dynamic stretches:
- Dynamic stretching might be walkout planks, which stretches and warmups your hamstrings while engaging your core.
- A similar static stretch would be to just hold that forward fold until your hamstrings fully release.
How Does Static Stretching Improve Flexibility?
Static stretching is the best form of stretching to improve flexibility. This is due to the prolonged holding of each stretch, which really allows your muscle fibers to actually lengthen. Muscles hold onto the memory of stretches the longer they are held, and the more consistently they are done. You will find that if you do a forward fold stretch every day for a week, by the end of the week you may be able to touch your toes right away. This is because your muscles are able to hold onto that length because they remember from you holding the position for long periods of time, days beforehand.
The best Static Stretches for flexibility are:
How to Start Static Stretching
If you are doing static stretching for the first time, you should always consult a professional on how to execute the exercises. Once you feel safe and confident in the positions, it is good to have a consistent stretching routine to execute daily, so that you will see progress in the muscle groups. When you are ready to begin your daily static stretching routine, follow this checklist to successfully complete the exercises:
- Make sure to warm up thoroughly beforehand, or exercise.
- Get out a mat or a towel, and put on loose-fitting warm clothes. It is important to stay warm throughout the stretching routine.
- Hold each stretch for 15-60 seconds, depending on how fast the muscle, joint, tendon, or ligament releases.
- Never stretch past the point of discomfort; stretching of any kind shouldn’t be painful.
- Be gentle with your body, and take it slow. You will see more progress in your flexibility through slow, consistent stretching.
- Always remember to breathe through your entire stretching routine. This will bring oxygen to the muscles, and help them to release faster. The more you breathe, the less discomfort you will feel.
Now that you know all there is to know about static stretching, it’s time to get started! There is no better day to start stretching than today. Visit or contact your local Kika Stretch Studio on how you can start your journey to flexibility and an overall healthier lifestyle today!