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Static Stretching-Good or Bad?


Mike T. Nelson, an all around smart dude – RKC, Z-Health and PhD candidate, posted this study on his blog a while ago and I’m just getting around to putting it up.

It is just another study that states the benefits of a thorough, dynamic warm-up over static stretching in preparation for a strength training workout.

Key Points from Mike’s Post:

  • static stretching relaxes the muscles
  • a dynamic warm-up excites (CNS) the muscles
  • static stretching weakens the muscles, at least temporarily
  • a dynamic warm-up activates and increasing the core and soft-tissue temperature

Bottom Line:

Static stretching does have its benefits and can be done more frequently (and cycled in to the workout) if there is a glaring and overwhelming flexibility issue.   But the better choice if you are looking for better, more fluid movement and to make sure you are “ready to go” when the workout begins – is dynamic, multi-directional / planar and full range movements.

Mike T Nelson Ramblings: Static Stretching–Good or Bad?.

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10 Responses to “Static Stretching-Good or Bad?”

  1. Christian Says:

    The problem i have found with z health is actually finding anything out about it… and the costs are extremely high to learn from the professionals and even the products seem over priced…

  2. Mike T Nelson Says:

    Thanks Smitty! Much appreciated man!

    Christian, what Z Health questions do you have that I can answer for you?

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson
    PhD(c), RKC, CSCS
    Z Health Master Trainer

  3. Nathan Says:

    After my online training program with eric cressey, i have found that a combination of static and dynamic stretches and drills preceding by foam rolling are a perfect warm up every time. i know take 15-20 minutes of preparation time and it has really boosted the tissue quality of my muscles and improved my technique in everything.

    i always go with the ‘feel’ when static stretching; if if feels tight then stretch it – if not, move on.

    regarding z health, i found it a great resource for myself and my clients. a warm up for the warm up if you like! well worth the purchase.


  4. Smitty Says:

    Nathan, I completely agree.

  5. Matty Holmes Says:

    I could not agree more man, my dynamic warm ups have also really helped build just general athleticism. I have new clients having a tuff time always just with the warm up

  6. Christian Says:

    Hello mike,

    I wouldn’t want to ask you anything to sell your secret.

    I don’t understand how it could be any more efficient then foam rolling with a combination of dynamic and static stretches. Say you have a tight muscles whats the difference between massaging it, stretching it, or doing some z health> which lasts the longest? etc.

  7. Mike T Nelson Says:

    Ha! No worries. Ask away–no secrets, but some things are just really hard to explain over the internet at times.

    Good question. For long term, permanent change we need to elicit learning a new pattern/program.

    Passive work (somebody doing something to you or you yourself as you lay their like a dead fish) in general does not “hold” for a long period of time since the learning effect in the brain is small. This does not mean it is NOT effective in certain cases, but in general it needs to be repeated quite frequently to be effective.

    Foam rolling kind of falls into that area as you are moving, but not a ton. Also, people tend to foam roll trying to INDUCE pain, which is a bad idea as pain will inhibit performance. If you have a right shoulder problem I can take a cow Massage falls into this category of a more passive therapy. Want to drive your massage therapist nuts? When they are done working on an area–get up and walk around the room and see if there is still any difference. If NOT, what makes you think it will stay once you even get home, much less tomorrow?

    For increased learning, we need to do more active, controlled, precise, movement. This is probably dynamic drills are better—more movement. More movement= more motor learning. Z Health is based on dynamic, ACTIVE mobility work. In my experience, after doing a Z Health drill to target a muscle, it will stay “on” for about 2-5 hours; so I have athletes do some high pay off drills for only 3-5 reps, but done 3-4 times during the day. This promotes more motor learning by getting some overlap of the new patterns (increased reps promote learning too). After about 3-4 weeks at 90% compliance, this new program is pretty well wired into your body and we move on to the next issue.

    Stretching can work, but be careful of what you are teaching your body. The definition of static stretch is to put the limb/muscle into an elongated position and teach it to be WEAKER. Can this help with some muscles that may be “overactive”—yes, but you will most likely need a trained eye/hands on work to find them. Dynamic joint mobility work (like Z Health) can also target this muscles too. Randomly static stretching is teaching your body to be weaker. DJM (dyn joint mobility) is teaching STRENGTH, esp at an end range of motion. How many athletes are weak during a mid range movement? Very few. How many are weak at an end range of motion? Many (myself included on certain exercises).

    Long winded answer, but I believe PRECISE joint mobility work can actually replace about 90% of foam rolling, massage and static stretching. Beyond this, think of how the brain gets info–1) eyes 2) vestibular (inner ear “balance”) 3) proprioception–joint information. A system for extreme human performance, should target all 3 of these areas—at a high level, this is what Z Health does. You can also add to this very specific hands on holding of tissue while athletes do certain drills also, but that is another can o’ worms.

    Hope that helps a bit. I think I have a new blog post!
    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson
    PhD(c), CSCS, RKC
    Z Health Master Trainer

  8. Christian Says:

    Beautiful explanation the cat is out of the box… I have read a few posts before, but you actually explained it. Most posts i have read is “z health is different it targest the cns instead of the tissue” instead of explaining the ideas behind it. post it on your blog most people with find it helpful… Congratulations you have also earned a new follower for you blog.

  9. Brian Bailey Says:


    GREAT stuff. I used to read a lot of Scott Sonnon’s stuff. Question:

    I’ve noticed that I have a tight right hip flexor(s) probably due to the fact that I’ve pulled it a few times over the years sprinting. What sort of joint mobility drills do you recommend that are superior to static stretching the area and/or foam rolling? I have a few other spots like that (sore elbow from overdoing the pullups,etc) but I’d like to get your input on the hip flexor for now.

    Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.


  10. Brian Bailey Says:


    Here’s the Scott Sonnon stuff I was doing for a few weeks but I stopped.

    Will this help with a tight hip flexor, a tight calf, etc? Shoulder issues, etc?

    Let’s say I get banged up playing pick up basketball (which I do here and there), seems like ice and massage/foam rolling is better than joint mobility no?

    Just trying to learn so please don’t misunderstand : )



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