Static and Dynamic Stretches

According to Mayo Clinic, stretching has proven to help improve your muscle flexibility and increase performance. If you’re about to begin intense physical activity, you’ll want to first create a pre-workout routine that incorporates stretching relevant to the work you’ll be putting in. Stretches are categorized into two types, static stretches and dynamic stretches. Both types of stretches have benefits to your overall health.

Static Stretching

In a static stretch, you hold your stretch in a set position for a short amount of time. Most people add in static stretches before a run or heavy lifting. Static stretches are held for about 20-45 seconds.

static stretches

Some examples of static stretches include:

  • Posterior capsule stretch: Relax your shoulder and stretch one arm across your body. Use the other arm to hold the outstretched arm in place. This stretch is helpful for anyone using overhead or throwing motions.
  • Hamstring stretch: Place one leg on a stool and the other on a flat surface. Lean forward, keeping your hips and knees straight.
  • Quadriceps stretch: Bend your knee back and hold your ankle with the same-sided hand. Keep your stomach muscles tight to prevent your back from creating an arch and causing injury.
Benefits of Static Stretches

Static stretches are useful for:

  • Improving flexibility and range of motion
  • Decreasing muscle soreness
  • Increasing blood flow
  • Providing relaxation

In order to maintain its health benefits, you should utilize static stretching often. It can be used to warmup or cool down from an exercise, or even if you are stuck behind a desk. Stretching routinely increases your blood flow and helps maintain flexibility progression. Failing to continue using static stretches for an extended period can negate your improvements.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretches apply your muscles to their full range of motion. Like static stretches, dynamic stretches are useful when preparing for a workout, but can be especially important in sports. They tighten muscles that will be used the most during specific movements, such as twists, lunges, and squats.

dynamic stretches

Some examples of dynamic stretches include:

  • Torso twists: Stand with your feet facing forward and shoulder width apart. Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle. While staying controlled, twist your torso from side to side. Do not force any movements.
  • Walking lunge: Put your hands on your waist and take a step forward and make a lunge. During your lunge, keep your plant knee in front of your hip and ankle and place your back knee into the ground as if to kneel. Keep your back straight throughout the motion.
  • Leg swing: Swing your leg either front-to-back or side-to-side in a controlled fashion. Start with a small swing and work your way up until you extend your leg through its full range of motion. Your abdomen should feel engaged and your back should be straight.
Benefits of Dynamic Stretches

Dynamic stretches are useful for:

  • Engaging muscles to their full range of motion
  • Preparing for high-level activity
  • Optimizing muscle groups for peak performance
  • Improving flexibility and circulation
  • Decreasing soreness and potential risk of injury

Dynamic stretches are reflective of the activity you will be performing. For example, walking and then slowly increasing your pace prepares your muscles for a long run or jog. Prior to any physical activity, you should gradually prepare your muscles to prevent injury and increase performance.

Choosing Your Stretch

Static and dynamic stretching can be used to prepare for sports, heavy workouts, or even for improving your health from behind a desk. The stretch you choose should go together with the activity you are about to perform.

In the unfortunate circumstance that you are injured, you may be advised to begin a physical therapy program that includes a variety of stretches.

To learn more about physical therapy at Elite, click here.

Improve Your Health by Practicing Good Posture

You’ve probably been told that good posture is important, but have never been explained why. Sitting and standing up straight can impact your overall physical health.

Benefits of Good Posture

By keeping your spine properly aligned, you can minimize the risk of injury to your back, shoulders, and other areas. This is because when your body is upright, you place less strain on these muscles. Good posture may also help alleviate conditions such as headaches, fatigue, and trouble breathing.

How to Sit and Stand Properly

It may be difficult to sit or stand up straight after years of slouching. It may feel normal to let your muscles slack, especially if you sit for a large portion of your day. Here are some tips to help you sit and stand with good posture:

Sitting:

  • Keep your feet on the floor or on a foot rest
  • Don’t cross your legs and keep your ankles aligned with your knees
  • Keep a gap between your knees and your seat
  • Adjust your seat to help your lower and mid-back
    • If you need more back support, add a cushion between your back and the backrest of the chair
    • If you are sitting too high or low in a desk it could harm your posture
  • Relax your shoulders and keep them parallel to the ground
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time

Standing:

  • Try to rest your weight on the balls of your feet
  • Keep your knees slightly bent
  • Keep your feet shoulder length apart
  • Let your arms hang naturally
  • Keep your head level and your ears in line with your shoulders
  • Shift your weight between feet if you start to feel uncomfortable

Improving your posture can go a long way. You may notice that ailments such as headaches, fatigue, and breathing problems become less frequent. Pain in the back, neck, knee, hip, foot, shoulder, and jaw may even decrease. Practicing good posture is an important step you can take to improve your health by reducing strain on your body.

To learn more about the spine physicians at Elite, click here.
To learn more about physical therapy at Elite, click here.

The Importance of Good Shoes

Choosing your next pair of shoes comes down to more than just picking out the trendiest option. These shoes will be the foundation every step you take, affecting your feet, ankles, back, and more! This is why it is vital that you pick the right pair.

Benefits of Proper Shoes

Wearing good shoes can prevent your feet and joints from experiencing pain. Other foot conditions you can avoid with good shoes include:

  • Corns and calluses
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Fungal nail infections
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Bunions
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Collapsing arches

Choosing the Right Shoe

Typically you should change your shoes every three months or 300 miles. If you feel that your shoes are wearing out their support faster, you can change out the inserts as a more cost-effective method.

When picking your shoes, choose a pair that will not wear down as quickly. Choose shoes that:

  • The back of the shoe is stiff – If you press on the back of the shoe from top to bottom you will only be able to twist it slightly.
  • You can slight twist the body of the shoe – If your shoe is inflexible or too flexible it can cause problems with your feet or become uncomfortable.
  • The shoe has arch support – If your shoes do not have the proper arch support it can cause your arches to hurt or even fall

If your shoes do not meet these criteria, you won’t be able to count on them for the long haul.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Because no size fits all, finding the best fit can be a process. Here are few tips to keep in mind during your search:

  1. Shop at the end of the day as your feet tend to swell and get a little bigger throughout the day
  2. Wear the socks you plan to wear with your new shoes
  3. Make sure the soles provide enough support. There should be support for your heel and the rest of your foot.
  4. Consider orthotic inserts. Inserts can help your shoes properly support your feet and increase comfort levels.

We’ve long been told that shoes need to be broken in, but your shoes should feel comfortable as soon as you put them on. If you buy a pair of shoes that feel like they need to be broken in, it could cause pain or discomfort in your feet.

Understand Your Pronation

Pronation is how your foot lands when you walk or run. If while move you are overpronating or subpronating you may cause more stress on your feet than necessary. If you overpronate while walking or running motion controlled shoes or orthotics may be recommended to you. If you subpronate you should look for a flexible and cushioned shoe. If you are unsure if you are an overpronator, subpronator, or neutral consult your doctor or an athletic shoe expert. An athletic shoe expert has been trained to help you find the best type of shoe for your different walking and running styles.

Choosing good shoes is an easy way to provide your body with the support it needs. Your shoes need to be able to absorb shock while run or walk, or risk your body absorbing the shock instead. If you have further questions, ask your doctor about what kind of shoes you need. Activities like running and hiking will require different types of support.

To learn more about the foot and ankle physicians at Elite, click here.