It is common knowledge that training and exercising keep your body fit while preparing it for peak performance. The question then becomes: Should you stretch before you start training or participating in any sporting activity? The two variants of stretching- dynamic and static- have been around for some time now.
Dynamic stretching particularly warms up your muscles, making your joints mobile and tendons more compliant. This, therefore, makes your body more prepared for physically engaging activities. So what makes dynamic stretches very popular among athletes and people who work out at large? Let’s find out, shall we?
What Is Dynamic Stretching?
Exercising is one of the best things you can ever do to your body. It just doesn’t help you stay fit; it reduces the risk of you contracting certain diseases. However, before you get into that, your muscles and joints need to be in the correct form. We don’t want any mobility issues to arise during your workout because of tight muscle, now do we?
This is where stretches come in. Stretching is naturally intuitive. For instance, when you yawn and stretch, you later feel good, right? Stretching has a way of making your body feel invigorated. They have been increasingly incorporated in exercises over time, and their form evolved for maximum benefit.
Dynamic stretches are one of these evolutions. These are active movements that involve stretching your muscles to their full range of motion. They are usually done as part of warm-up routines before athletic events or workout sessions. In most cases, dynamic stretching imitates the physical activities that you’re about to engage in.
Dynamic stretching exercises are known to increase your power, sprint, agility, jump, and overall performance. This has been attributed to the fact that these exercises tend to excite your muscles faster and earlier. As a result, your coordination is significantly improved (1).
So are there any significant benefits that arise from warming up using dynamic stretches? And if there are, are they worth the trouble?
What Are The Benefits Of Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretches have several wonderful effects on the body. Here are some reasons why you may want to get started!
Dynamic Stretches Warm Up Your Muscles
This is probably the most lauded benefit of these warm-up routines. They get your muscles up to their right “working temperatures” and stretch them out. Since your muscles will be in their optimal working temps, their overall function will be improved during the exercise.
Dynamic Stretches May Reduce The Risk Of Injury
Going straight in your workout without warming up seems like a great idea, right? Well, at least until you pull a muscle or twist your joints, and it suddenly isn’t. That can be avoided by warming up using dynamic stretches.
There are no conclusive studies yet that support their effectiveness in reducing injuries. However, dynamic stretches can help you get into form. This ultimately lowers the risk of muscle injury due to factors like muscle stiffness (2).
Dynamic Stretches Get Your Blood Pumping
Apart from your muscles, your cardiovascular system also needs to be prepared before a workout session. Your heart can quickly ramp up the number of beats per minute over long periods compared to short, sudden spans. This mainly affects people who are generally sedentary or work desk jobs.
Dynamic stretching will increase your circulation, making the delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout your body faster (4). As a result, your body will feel more energized and will tire slowly during the workout.
Dynamic Stretches Can Shorten Your Recovery Time
When you warm up using dynamic stretches, the chances are high that your recovery time is reduced along with post-exercise soreness. Why? Warmed-up muscles are limber and move easily (1). This cuts down on stiffness during and after the workout.
Also, better circulation and increased oxygen and nutrient supply will help your sore muscles repair. It makes you want to give it a shot, huh?
Dynamic Stretches Improve Your Mobility
This warmup is an excellent way of improving your mobility in the short and long term. With every rep and movement, your muscles get more mobile. You then get to enjoy added benefits that arise from the increased range of movement.
For instance, your muscles will be stronger, meaning you can go on for extended periods without worrying about injuries. This recent study confirms that dynamic stretching increases your muscle strength while improving your range of motion (2).
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Dynamic Stretches Prepare You Mentally
Preparing for any workout or sporting event is not just a physical process. It’s mental too. If you get your body in shape, but your mind isn’t in the game, the results won’t be as impressive. This is regardless of how you’ll be feeling physically.
So how exactly will dynamic stretches improve your mental state before an exercise? For starters, it gives you transition time, enabling you to shake off anything you’ve been stewing over mentally. This then helps you to focus on the activity you’re about to undertake.
Next, you get to reconnect with your body and think about your workout goals for the session. And finally, these exercises often mimic the activity you’re about to get into it. This will put you in a more mentally prepared state before the exercise.
Dynamic Stretches Improve Your Performance
Performance doesn’t improve because of a specific thing that dynamic stretches do to your muscles. It’s a culmination of factors that eventually boost your performance. When your muscles are warm, your heart is pumping correctly, and you’re in the right headspace, your performance is bound to improve.
Maybe you’re on a workout slump and are wondering what’s wrong. Adding some dynamic stretches to your warmup may be the magic touch you need to get things going again. With all this hype going on about dynamic stretches, you’re left wondering what about static stretches?
When we compare dynamic vs static stretching, how do they perform against each other? Keep reading to find out.
What Is The Difference Between Static And Dynamic Stretching?
So, static vs dynamic stretching. What is the difference, and which is better for your workout routine? With the ever-rising popularity of dynamic stretches, static stretches and their relevance have been put under scrutiny. Are static stretches still relevant today?
While dynamic stretches are based on movement, static stretches are all about moving a joint as far as it can. As far, and as long as you can without changing your position. You do not warm up your muscles when static stretching; instead, you relax them. It’s better suited as part of your post-workout cooldown process.
So, what is the focus of dynamic stretching? Simply put, dynamic stretches get your body moving. You don’t hold the stretches for any length of time, and they are best suited for pre-workout warmup exercises.
When it comes to static stretches, your muscles are extended and held for a while. They are primarily relaxation movements that are best suited for post-workout cooling routines. That being said, what are some dynamic stretching examples for your pre-workout warmups?
Dynamic Stretching Examples For Pre-Workout
Several dynamic stretches can get your body warmed up before a workout. These are some top picks to get you started:
Dynamic Stretches For Your Legs
Dynamic leg stretching is one of the most popular variants there is. Both athletes and non-athletes use it before any physical activity. Here are some of them:
Dynamic Hip Circles
- Begin by standing on one leg. You can use a worktop or wall for support.
- Gently swing the other leg in small circles. The movements should be towards the side.
- Switch legs after every 20 reps.
Pro tip: The more flexible you become, the wider your circle can get. This works your muscles more.
Dynamic Calf Stretches
- With your hands flat, shoulder height and pressed against a wall, stand with one leg in front of the other.
- Keep your back leg straight and heel pressed into the floor while moving it away from the floor. You should keep everything faced towards the wall and your spine and rear leg aligned.
- Make sure you feel the stretch in the calf of your rear leg.
- Hold for some seconds, then switch to the other leg.
Pro tip: This is a particularly useful warmup for athletes preparing for a long run. It can also be used by those who haven’t run in some time.
Dynamic Hamstring Stretch
- Sit on the ground with both legs stretched out in front of you.
- Bending your left leg, place the sole of your left foot along with your right knee. Make sure your legs make a P shape when doing that.
- Keep your left leg relaxed on the ground while bending forward and keeping your back straight.
- Ensure you feel your hamstrings stretch in your right leg. Repeat with the other leg.
Pro tip: If you plan to go for a run or to cycle, this is the right warmup exercise to get you started.
Dynamic Hip And Thigh Stretch
- Standing up straight, get into a lunge position.
- Slowly descend into the lunge, and remember to keep your back straight. If you’re having trouble balancing, use your arms to improve stability.
- Make sure you feel the stretch along the front of your leg that’s bent towards the floor.
- Keep the position for a few seconds and repeat on the other leg.
Pro tip: You may be able to get lower to the floor as your flexibility increases. This allows for more movement in your hip and thigh area.
Dynamic Stretches For Your Upper Body
Dynamic Shoulder Stretch
- Stand upright, making sure your feet are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Put your right arm parallel with the floor and across your chest.
- Use your left arm to ease your right arm closer to your chest while bending your left arm forward.
- Hold for about 10 seconds and switch to the other arm.
Pro tip: Despite being a common exercise, it helps loosen your shoulder before doing weights, swimming, or running.
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Dynamic Arm Circles
- Position your feet shoulder-width apart while holding your arms out to the side, at shoulder height.
- Circle your arms around slowly. Start with small circles and work your way up to large circles.
- Reverse the direction and perform about 20 more reps.
Pro tip: This is an ideal exercise before boxing or swimming.
Dynamic Upper Back Stretch
- Position your feet shoulder-width apart and stand upright.
- Next, slightly bend your knees.
- While interlocking your fingers, push your hands as far away from your chest as possible.
- Doing this should permit your upper back to relax. Doing this should make you feel some stretch between your shoulder blades.
Pro tip: Because it loosens your shoulders, this is a particularly great exercise before swimming.
Dynamic Arm Swings
- Face forward while extending your arms out in front of you at shoulder height. Your palms should face down.
- Swing both arms to the right while walking forward. Your left arm should reach in front of your chest and your right arm towards the side.
- As you swing your arms, keep your torso straight. You should only turn your shoulder joints.
- Reverse the swing direction while walking. Do 5 reps on each side.
Pro tip: This move will help your torso and arms loosen up. Increase the number of reps as you feel your muscles improve.
Dynamic Iliotibial Band Stretch
- Start by crossing one leg in front of the other.
- Next, bend down to touch your toes.
- Stretch the outside of your thigh on the opposite leg while moving your hands across the floor toward the front leg.
- Repeat this movement on both sides to the required number of reps.
Pro tip: If you feel some tightness in your lower back area, you should try this exercise.
Dynamic Spinal Rotations
- Position your feet shoulder-width apart while bringing your arms out to the side at shoulder height.
- Keeping your torso still, slowly rotate your body back and forth from right to left.
- Repeat this 5-10 times.
Pro tip: This warm-up improves and loosens the movement in your lower back before any exercise.
Dynamic stretches are an excellent way to improve your physical performance during exercise or sports. It prepares your body while providing you with energy that’ll help you power through your workout sessions. So don’t just jump into that exercise. Warm-up using these stretches and experience their results first hand.
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Acute Effects of Dynamic Stretching on Muscle Flexibility and Performance: An Analysis of the Current Literature (2018, pubmed.gov)
- CURRENT CONCEPTS IN MUSCLE STRETCHING FOR EXERCISE AND REHABILITATION (2012, nih.gov)
- Stretching exercises enhance vascular endothelial function and improve peripheral circulation in patients with acute myocardial infarction (2013, pubmed.gov)