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Stretching: Before or after exercise, dynamic or static

There are many myths of when and how to stretch. Many opinions, many theses, but how do you know what is right and what is not? Which facts are there and what should be considered?

The story of stretching begins with the so-called "Naive Phase, " in which the expansion of the range of motion was in the foreground. Until the 80s, therefore, was fully set on the dynamic stretching.

In the subsequent "dogmatic phase", the goal was the emotional well-being, the release of fear and tension. This should be achieved not only by static stretching, but also by contract relax streching and antagonist contract streching.

The "Scientific Phase I" was determined by several studies that could not prove whether the dynamic stretching is really ineffective and the static stretching shows the desired effect.

The fourth phase ("scientific phase II") showed that in addition to the filaments in the muscle actin and myosin, also the titin plays a major role in stretching and the permanent strain in animals leads to adjustment mechanisms in the muscles.

What is stretched?

When a muscle is stretched, the connective tissue fibers first react. At first the tension is very high and the muscle signals the mobility limit of the fibers. The high tension in the muscle diminishes over time and remains constant, meaning that the connective tissue fibers adapt and become longer. At the moment of tension and limit of motion, the mechanoreceptors in the tendon and muscle react, with time the tolerance of the receptors to the stretching stimulus increases. If the stretching stimulus is not set regularly, the tolerance decreases again and there is a restriction of movement. At first, the limitations are physiological, but may become structural after weeks of immobilization. That means the sakomers shorten.

What is the goal of stretching?

The regular response of the mechanoreceptors and the increase in tolerance to the stretching stimulus should permanently promote the maintenance of mobility.

The dynamic stretching

In dynamic stretching, a stretch position is taken quickly and left again, then taken again with new momentum. It creates intermettierende movements without holding a position longer.


- Training of inter- and intramuscular coordination, as the neuromuscular control is repeatedly addressed by the complex movement process

- Circulation increase, thus high warm-up effect

Dynamic training for better mobility?


- Dehnreflex is triggered by rapid movements and associated changes in length of the muscle, the reflex is triggered and thus not reached the final position

- Stimulus duration and extent too short for connective tissue changes in length

The static stretching

In static stretching, the end position is taken slowly and held for a longer period of time.


- low risk of injury due to low speed

- no triggering of the stretch reflex


- Unphysiological load on the capsule-ligamentous apparatus by the long holding of the end position

- Neglect of the intermuscular coordination by the long holding of the end position

- low local circulation, therefore no warm-up effect

How do I stretch properly?

It is difficult to make a statement about what is right and what is wrong. There have been a few studies in recent years, but these are hardly comparable, as the statements concerning the duration, intensity and frequency of dilation were very different. The current state of research has many refractory findings.

injury prevention

Here it must be clearly differentiated when stretching should be used to prevent injury. Stretching is very important and contributes to the prevention of injury in order to generate enough freedom of movement and to train the intermuscular coordination, to increase the receptor tolerance. But stretching after the warm-up just before the competition is just as important? There is no study that has shown that proneeding reduces the risk of injury.

performance increase

Just as with injury prevention, performance can be increased through the clean execution of movement and optimal freedom of movement. The pre-stretching, however, is not useful for all athletes. Static stretching can reduce muscle fatigue and contractility, dramatically reducing performance. For example, gymnasts who need their maximum range of motion are advised to stretch extensively and dynamically beforehand. As a result, the muscles are warmed up, the sport-specific movement sequences are trained by the neuromuscular activation.


Since studies have shown that muscle soreness is caused by microfiber tears in the muscles, it should be clear to everyone that additional intense muscle pulling does not seem particularly beneficial.


Whether stretching immediately after the competition from the point of view of physiology makes sense, is undetectable. To assess the other level of relaxation through stretching, the subjective consideration must be included. Focusing on your body, focusing on breathing and just "slowing down" promotes body awareness and relaxation.

Angi Peukert


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4. Zalpour, Christoff: Anatomy Physiology. 2nd edition, Munich / Jena: Urban & Fischer

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