Stretching: Dynamic vs. Static and what that means with Thai massage
Nicole Greenhouse, LMT
There has been a lot of talk recently about stretching, different kinds of stretching, what is good - what is bad, is it good - is it bad, when is it good- when is it bad.
Oh my goodness! Who knows? What do I do? Well, here is what I know from a Thai massage therapy perspective (and some educated research).
Let’s start with what is most commonly known:
This type of stretching is the most commonly known. The is when you stretch a muscle to slight discomfort and hold it for about 30sec - 2min.
When people want to be more flexible, usually this is the type of stretching they do.
After a workout or athletic match
Correcting functional postural issues (ex: pec stretches after a long day sitting in front of a computer)
In Thai massage, this type of stretching can be applied to the stretching techniques in the sequence. I use it to help reduce tension in tight fascia, when they want to increase their flexibility, and when a client feels really stuck because they are in a stagnant position most of their day (sitting in a car, sitting in front of a computer, hunched over work).
Dynamic stretching is becoming a more popular term, especially around athletes.
Dynamic stretching is when there is movement along with elongating a muscle group. For example: stretching your hamstrings while twisting your opposite hand to your foot while standing. There is movement happening in the body while the stretch is occurring.
Another example: having your leg brought to your chest in a rhythmic movement. The fascia and muscles of your lower back and hips is getting stretched, while the movement is causing more blood flow to the area. This motion can also be done by yourself while you are standing.
Warming up before an athletic event
Keeping your muscles loose but active to start your day
Increasing fluid (blood, lymph) flow through your body
Helping to reduce athletic injury by elongating the muscles while keeping them active
Increasing heat (the degree of this can vary) in the body
In Thai massage, dynamic stretching is more commonly seen because of the rhythmic, rocking nature of the modality.
While an athlete is in training, it is important to keep their muscle tension about the same throughout. If an athlete trains for a while then stretches all the muscles out (deep static stretching), when the event comes they actually feel weaker (click here to read an article about this). Dynamic stretching helps keep the muscles supple, giving space for fluid and healthy joint function, but does not over stretch them.
If I am working with an athlete in training, dynamic stretching during the routine while in training mode - static stretches after the event is over to get all the extra adhesions or “knots” out.
Have a great day!