Written By: Isaiah Truyman | Photography By: Kit Noble

Flexibility may be the most fundamentally vital fitness quality in life, and yet the practice of stretching is sorely misunderstood. The truth is that the science behind stretching is inconclusive and largely based on unsubstantiated theories and anecdotal evidence. Today the thinking behind stretching is much different than what you might have learned in gym class.

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Static stretching muscles before exercise.

The problem is that static stretching basically overrides the muscles’ regulators through prolonged time under tension, resulting in a muscle relaxing and stretching beyond its naturally safe range of motion. This acts like a chokehold that puts your muscles to sleep right before higher intensity activity. Not a good idea. Moreover, because of the passive nature of static stretching, it is possible to create a lax joint. When a lax joint is created, there is a large range of motion but not enough dynamic control throughout the entire range of motion. This can lead to the potential for easy injury or “hypermobility.” Static stretching is reserved for post-exercise to correct a specific muscle imbalance only.

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Dynamic stretching and mobility of primary joints.

Dynamic stretching such as walking lunges, leg swings or trunk circles activate the nervous system’s connection with muscle response and increases readiness for more vigorous exercise. Additionally, control is developed throughout the full range of motion around joints. Dynamic stretches can also teach you to maintain good posture, increase your core temperature, increase your balance and coordination, activate your core stabilizers, and stimulate your mind and body awareness.

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