Static Stretching vs Dynamic Stretching

There is often confusion between the two types of stretching methods. As I work with young athletes, I get to explain the fundamental difference between static stretching vs dynamic stretching.

Why do we perform stretches in the first place?

Our goal with stretching is to lengthen the muscle and surrounding connective tissue in a safe and effective manner. This will help us improve our joint range of motion (ROM) which will subsequently help us minimize our risk of injury.

There are two main methods of flexibility training. This is where we come to the classic static stretching vs dynamic stretching comparison.

First thing you need to remember is that these stretches are more effective after a thorough warm-up, when the body temperature is elevated. When your muscles are warmer, they are more pliable.

We’ll start with static stretching. During this type of stretch, you want to take a specific joint (i.e. your shoulder joint) through a ROM to a comfortable end point. You want to hold this stretch for about 20-30 seconds. Static stretching will help you overcome the stretch reflex-this is the automatic tightening of a muscle you feel when you stretch. The muscle usually relaxes after roughly 20 seconds.

Advantages of Static Stretching:

  • Very safe
  • Can be done in any environment without any equipment
  • Can be used by anyone

Disadvantages of Static Stretching:

  • Only improves flexibility at a specific body position
  • Not effective for those wanting to increase flexibility in multiple ROMs

Next, we need to take a look at dynamic stretching.

Dynamic stretching uses dynamic movements to take a muscle through its full range of motion. When performed correctly, dynamic stretching warms up the joints, maintains current flexibility and reduces muscle tension. This method of stretching is best prior to any activity that is movement-based.

Advantages of Dynamic Stretching:

  • Extremely useful for people warming up for an activity that requires wide ROM (i.e. athletes), especially when speed is involved

Disadvantages of Dynamic Stretching:

  • Not safe for everyone. Should be used only by those who have been shown the proper movements
  • Injury is more common during this type of stretching technique

My recommendation is to perform dynamic stretches before a workout and static stretches after the workout. Studies have shown that static stretching  before a workout deactivates muscles and makes them weaker. This is not what we want prior to resistance training.

Hopefully this has helped you understand the difference between static stretching vs dynamic stretching.

Read more about the benefits of flexibility training.

Raymond - ZenMyFitness - October 19, 2010

Excellent that is exactly what I worked do the dynamic first and the static later and that works for me perfectly and does what you say.
There is another stretching time and that is during the work out, its a loaded static stretch at the end of the set it is meant to stretch the internal membrane called the Fascia , it was very common in Eastern Block power training methods! It creates “room”for the muscles to grow.

Dave - Not Your Average Fitness Tips - October 19, 2010

Good analysis of stretching. I’m using Pavel’s Relax Into Stretch routine right now. I do it on nights off from a workout because it’s really focused on increasing flexibility. It’s almost a workout in itself sometimes!

Jordan - The Healthy Teacher - October 20, 2010

First off, I love your site. Second, this is a great post. I have discussed the difference between static and dynamic stretching with my students and they always want to use dynamic stretching instead! Lastly, we live very close to each other. I am a teacher in Kitchener so we have to catch up sometime for a cup of coffee or tea! At Tim Horton’s of course!


Mike - Fitness Contrarian - October 20, 2010

Good explanation of static and dynamic stretching.

I agree with you I like to start out with dynamic stretching before my workout. It’s a great way to warm-up.

Best – Mike

bloomtofit - October 21, 2010

@ Raymond
Thanks for that insight. I knew about loaded static stretching just not that it was used as power training methods. I’ll have to look into this.

@ Dave
I’ve heard of Relax Into Stretch by Pavel. Let me know if it actually works. Thanks!

Dynamic stretching is the one that is typically skipped so it’s nice to see they want to do them. Send me an email and we’ll find a time to meet up. Sounds cool.

@ Mike
Thanks for the comment!

Darren@MorePrimeTime.com - October 21, 2010

I noticed that if I don’t do static stretching after a run my legs really tighten up.

My routine is run, then walk the dog and stretch. He loves it because he gets much more sniffing time.


Bryan @ Turbo Fitness Secrets - October 25, 2010

I agree with everthing that you said. I personally like to hold my stretches for 30 to 45 seconds, after a really hard run I might stretchen it to one minute.

Jim - October 27, 2010

This is some useful information for everyone that is trying to get in shape. Looking for the proper way to get in shape can be difficult when you got a lot different way’s of doing it but your website breaks it all away down about getting in shape

marx - May 7, 2011

Excellent post. It helps a lot. Many people do it without proper procedures in doing. I agree that doing it improperly will cause you a harm. Personally, I don’t do it, I just take a 15-minute walk at the beach. But, grateful now that I have this post. Thanks for sharing-

    bloomtofit - May 8, 2011

    I’m glad you found the post useful. I could definitely use a nice walk at the beach right now:)

Philip DeVasto - April 6, 2012

So many think that all stretching is equal, this post is a great intro for people trying to understand the difference. As more research is published its becoming even more obvious that dynamic stretching is the way to go for pre activity benefits. Thanks for posting. -phil

    Srdjan Popovic - April 7, 2012

    I’m sure we’ll see a lot more studies come out on the topic in the next few years. Thanks for your comment!

Sheldon - July 3, 2012

Great article! I used static stretching before warming-up and working out. I didn’t even knew using static stretches before a workout weakens your performance, now I know. I’m absolutely going to learn more about dynamic stretching and use it before a workout. I going to read your 5 Killer dynamic stretching exercises next.

    Srdjan Popovic - July 7, 2012

    Yea there have been a lot of studies pointing to a drop in performance when static stretching prior to workout. But there’s also a style of stretching called ‘corrective stretching’ that I’ll talk about in an upcoming post. It’s a style of static stretching that is good to do before a workout.

Sam Miller - October 9, 2014

This is a great breakdown on the benefits of both dynamic and static stretching and when they are best applied. Great article Srdjan. I personally like to do dynamic stretches before resistance training and static stretches afterward (although I admittedly dont do enough stretching after workouts) and I have read a lot about how static stretches before exercise can reduce performance. This is very important for people who are trying to build strength or for anyone involved in sports. Thanks for the awesome article man.

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