What is The Difference Between Active and Static Stretching?

As we learn more about fitness and mobility, it’s common to start hearing about the different types of accessible movement, from yoga to tai chi, Pilates, stretching, and more. WeStretch is a great entryway into movement, with simple stretches designed specifically for you, focusing primarily on active and static stretching.


What is static stretching?

Static stretching is the most commonly known form of stretching. This is typically where you hold a stretch to lengthen and relax tight muscles.


Static stretching is best for active recovery after exercise, as it allows your muscles to return to a pre-workout state, flushing the lactic acid out and cool down efficiently.


The other benefit of static stretching is the ability to recover from injuries. It relieves tension and improve blood flow through areas of pain, while not pushing your body beyond what it can handle.


A woman on the beach is has stepped her left foot forward while in a plank pose, facing out towards the ocean.


What is active stretching?

Active or dynamic stretching utilizes continuous movement through a specific range of motion. An example of this would be circling your arms forward or swinging your leg side to side. You’re stretching many different muscles and joints, which improves circulation throughout your body.


Active stretching is great as a warm-up before starting exercise, as it increases your body temperature and primes your body for physical activity.



Does WeStretch use active or static stretching?

WeStretch uses both static and active stretching. This combination of different types of stretches efficiently moves every joint in every direction to increase flexibility and mobility. What type of stretch that you use will also depend on the type of stretching routine you choose.


The sport improvement routines are focus on longer-held static stretches, as this elongates the target muscles and allows them to relax into the stretch, promoting flexibility. Warm-up routines have a mix of short-held static stretches and active movements. This allows each joint to move to through their complete range of motion, which reduces the risk of injury.


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Ada has her arms up above her head while sliding her leg out to the side.


Are there other stretching techniques out there?

Yes, however, the other stretching styles should be executed with care and under professional supervision.


Ballistic stretching involves bouncing in a stretch, often moving past your body’s built-in defense injury prevention. The motion goes beyond what is safe for your body and can cause damage to your muscles. Many dancers use ballistic stretching as a warm-up, as many of their poses involve similar actions.


There are also proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) and loaded progressive stretching (LPS) which are useful for enhanced stretching techniques but should be done with extreme caution.


PNF is a type of stretching which involves someone or something holding a limb immobile while a stretching a specific muscle. This is one of the types of treatment offered by chiropractic care or similar types of physical therapy.


LPS is adding a weight to increase the tension of your stretch, which is great for building muscle during your stretching session. While this can expedite results, an improper stretching technique can cause more damage than good, especially if done while unsupervised. Work to build up to LPS by focusing on fundamental strength stretches with WeStretch such as planks, lunges, and even holding your arms out to the side.



Why should I stretch?

Everyone, young and old, should incorporate stretching into their daily routine. Start by doing morning stretches or stretching to relieve tension in your muscles before bed.


Stretching helps to prevent injury, increase your range of motion, boosts energy, and can help to improve your mental health. It is an accessible exercise that everyone can do, regardless of fitness level, including people with disabilities.


If you’re new to exercise, stretching is a great starting place on the journey to improving your physical health. Even if you’re a professional athlete, regular stretching can improve your sport performance and expedite muscle recovery times in between sessions.


Karen is demonstrating the cow pose, where you're on all fours and you push your chest towards the floor.

Karen is demonstrating the cat pose, where you're on all fours and you push your back towards the roof.


Regular stretching can also mitigate the need for pain killers, and reduce the frequency of physical therapy appointments. Combine regular active and static stretching routines into your day to find yourself moving and feeling better!


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This article is not intended to act as or replace medical advice. Please talk to your health care practitioner if you have any concerns.



Written by Kayla Willsey

Updated August 20, 2021