Dynamic vs Static Stretching: 6 Physical Therapy Exercises

Updated: Jul 18

Learn about the difference between static and dynamic stretching, the benefits of each, and how to add them to your fitness routine.

Woman warming up doing static stretches

Dynamic vs. Static Stretching: A Physical Therapist's Perspective-She'll Break It Down


It's no secret that stretching is an important part of any workout routine. But, which kind of stretch should you do: dynamic stretching or static stretching? And when should you do it? Here's a look at the research on dynamic and static stretching, and how to do them both.


What Is Dynamic Stretching?


Dynamic stretching helps you move your joints and muscles through their entire range of motion. Dynamic stretching is considered to be more effective than static stretching for warming up before activity because they allow you to move more naturally.[*] Before beginning a workout, warm up your muscles with dynamic stretching. This type of stretching can help prevent injury and improve joint mobility and range of motion.[*]


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3 Dynamic Stretches You Should Add to Your Fitness Routine


Dynamic stretching is a form of stretch that keeps moving, as the name implies. Here are three dynamic stretching exercises you can do as a dynamic warm up before your next workout:


Arm Circles:


Stand with your feet hip-width apart and extend your arms out to your sides. Make sure your shoulders are down and relaxed. Circle your arms forward for five seconds, then reverse the direction and circle them back for five seconds.


Marching in Place:


Start by standing straight with your feet together hip-width apart. March in place by lifting your left knee up as high as you can and then lowering it to the ground. Bring your right elbow forward at the same time as you lift your left knee. Repeat on the opposite side and continue marching for 30 seconds.


Jumping Jacks:


Start by standing with your feet together and your hands at your sides. Jump up and spread your feet out to the side as you raise your arms above your head. Jump back to the starting position and repeat for 30 seconds.


Perform dynamic stretches before you exercise to get the most out of your workout. You can also try these when you need to take a break at work.


woman doing a static stretching routine for her health and wellness

*You can stretch out the lower back with the Pelvic Clock. This device can be used with your static stretching routine.

What Is Static Stretching?


Static stretching involves holding a position for a set length of time at the end range of motion.[*] Over the past few years, there has been much debate about dynamic and static stretching.[*] After a workout, static stretching is better than dynamic stretching for decreasing the risk of injury and relaxing your muscles. Static stretching also produces greater range of motion than dynamic stretching.[*]


According to certain research, static stretching as a warm-up before exercise may reduce your sports performance. However, more recent research suggests that this isn't always the case.[*] In fact, static stretching before exercise has been shown to help in some circumstances.


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3 Static Stretches You Should Add to Your Fitness Routine


When a muscle is stretched continuously over a certain period of time, it's known as a static stretch. Make sure the body is in balance while you're stretching. Here are a few examples of static stretches you can do after your next exercise routine:


Hamstring Stretch:


Sit with your legs extended in front of you. Lean forward, keeping your back straight. Reach for your toes or place your hands on the floor in front of you. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.


Standing Quadriceps Stretch:


Stand up straight. You may want to hold onto something for balance (like a doorway, wall, or tree). Bend one leg and pull your heel upward towards your buttocks. Keep your back straight and core engaged. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.


Shoulder Stretch:


Stand tall with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Bring your right arm across your chest and grab hold of your left shoulder with your right hand. Gently pull until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Deepen the stretch by looking over your left shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch arms and repeat.



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