A Basic Static Versus Dynamic Stretching Guide

Static Stretching

Static stretching is best for increasing length of muscles.  In general, the longer the stretch is held the better.  Ideally, each stretch should be held a minimum of 30 seconds.  Two to three repetitions are recommended.

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is best used prior to muscular activity.  Your warm up prior to an athletic activity should include dynamic stretching (no hold stretching) in addition to general warm up activities (i.e. walking, jogging).  To effect change in muscle length, stretching must be performed regularly, 3 to 4 times per week.

If you have further questions about either, or need some examples feel free to contact one of our physical therapists to be sure to perform safe and effective stretching.

Ice or Heat?

One of the most common questions we get is “when should I use ice or when should I use heat?”  It can be confusing when trying to decide which is best to use in various scenarios.

Ice: We recommend the use of ice for acute/new injuries, usually sprains or strains of muscle or tissue.  Ice helps to reduce inflammation and can also ease pain.

General symptoms that call for ice:

  •         swelling
  •         injury is warm or red
  •         inflammation
  •         pain


How to use:

  •         You can apply ice for 10-20 minutes.
  •         You can repeat this process every couple of hours.


CAUTION: Make sure your ice pack is covered with something like a pillow case.  Putting ice directly against the skin can cause tissue damage, sometimes as bad as frostbite.


Heat: The use of heat can be helpful in easing symptoms of pain from muscle spasms, knots, or trigger points.  These injuries are usually chronic in nature.  A stiff neck or a sore low back can be relieved by heat since the warmth  relaxes the over-active muscles.  It helps to increase circulation and reduce the muscle spasms.

General symptoms that will benefit from heat:

  •         Stiffness
  •         soreness that is generally chronic in nature
  •         knots, trigger points


How to use:

  •         You can apply heat for up to 30 minutes or as tolerated as a comfortable, relaxing experience.
  •         You can repeat this process every couple of hours if necessary.


CAUTION: Be careful when using heat.  The purpose is to warm the tissue.  Heat is not recommended for people with peripheral vascular disease or diabetes.  Using too much heat can damage tissue.

In summary, think ice for acute injuries that may be swollen, painful and hot.  Heat can be used for chronic injuries or minor muscular soreness.  If in doubt, feel free to come visit us or give us a call.