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Stretching is generally the most neglected aspect of someone's rehab or exercise program. Many people think it is only important for dancers and gymnasts, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Stretching helps to improve your flexibility and mobility. Many people think stretching is only used when 'cooling down,' but stretching helps our muscles to prepare for exercise as well.

Why should we stretch?

Stretching is predominantly thought to increase our muscle's flexibility, but did you know it can actually help them to get stronger as well? A recent study ( looking at adolescent female athletes found an increase in muscle strength with just stretching for 12 weeks!

Without adequate flexibility, our muscles shorten in length, and can become tight. This then means that when you try to use those muscles during activity, they can be weak and are restricted in their range. This can potentially put you at a higher risk of injury. Regular stretching helps to keep our muscles flexible and our joints healthy.

What types of stretching are there?

There are many forms of stretching, however the 2 we will mostly look at in this blog are Static and Dynamic Stretching.

What is the difference between Static and Dynamic Stretching?

Static Stretching is a stretch that is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time. This is the most common type of stretching and it is considered very safe and effective for improving overall flexibility. Evidence suggests that in order to gain any benefit from a static stretch it must be held for 20-45 seconds.

Dynamic Stretching is a stretch that is performed by moving through a challenging but comfortable range of motion repeatedly. Dynamic stretching requires more coordination when compared to static stretching, due to the movement and control involved. It is often favoured among athletes, coaches, trainers and physical therapists because of its benefits in improving range of motion for functional movement, mobility in sports and activities for daily living.

Note: Dynamic stretching is not to be confused with ballistic stretching.

It is now recommended that an active warm-up involving dynamic stretching is the most beneficial when preparing for any kind of physical activity or sport. Dynamic stretching helps to improve the flexibility of the muscles before exercise but also helps to warm up the body. It is recommended that the dynamic stretching part of your warmup should last for around 5-15 mins.

After a workout, it is easy to forget to cool down properly. However, this is a key moment in your recovery and a good way to maintain joint and muscle health. This is generally done through static stretching. After exercise, the body is warm, and static stretching is a great way to increase blood flow to the muscles to aid in recovery and removing the by-products produced from exercise. It can also help to improve overall flexibility and joint range of motion. Generally, 3x 20 second holds for each muscle group on each side, or 2x 30 second holds is recommended.

Static: Hamstring Stretch

Basic Dynamic and Static Stretching Routine


1. Leg Swings

- Hold on to a wall or fixed surface.

- Swing one leg back and forth - as if you’re kicking a soccer ball.

- Ensure the movement is controlled and within a challenging and comfortable range.

- Complete approximately 10 swings on each side.

2. Side Knee Rocks

- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent.

- Gently rotate both of your knees from side to side, keeping your shoulders flat on the floor.

- Do not force the position of your knees.

- Complete approximately 10 rocks to each side.

Cool Down: STATIC

1. Hamstring Stretch

- Sit on the ground with one leg extended out in front of you.

- Touch your opposite foot to the extended knee.

- Reach forward with both hands down your extended leg until you can feel a comfortable stretch along the back of your leg.

- Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 2x on each leg.

2. Quadriceps Stretch

- Hold on to a wall or fixed surface.

- Using the same arm as leg, grab your foot and pull your heel in towards your buttocks.

- Keep your knees together and ensure that your hips are in a neutral position.

- Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat 2x on each leg.

Static: Quadriceps Stretch

Before attempting any of these exercises at home, book an assessment with one of our physios today, to ensure they are safe and relevant for you.

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