main article image

A Case For Dynamic Stretching Over Static Stretching During Your Warm-up

Posted on 2017-07-06

Think back to your school gym class. What did your gym teacher have you do every day before beginning an activity? Bend and touch your toes, push your arms behind your back, sit down and touch your toes again, maybe do a couple butterfly presses. In other words, stretch.

Now you probably do some similar routine. After all, it is what you were taught to do, and the last thing you want is an injury. The only problem is that every time you do one of these stretches, you are potentially increasing the risk of an injury.

This kind of stretching is called static stretching. It is a limited movement that elongates muscles while you are at rest. Experts now say this is a great thing to do, say, after you have been sitting at a desk for an hour. But before working out? Not so much; it doesn’t properly warm you up, and fails to activate the muscles you will be using.

Dynamic Stretching - A Better Kind Of Warm Up

Today, a new kind of warm-up is being presented as the better alternative: dynamic stretching. This is less of a stretching routine, and more of a full body workout that is quick, simple, and movement based.

An average dynamic stretching warm-up will consist of seven to ten moves, done ten to fifteen times a piece. It can take anywhere from five to ten minutes, depending on your own comfort level and speed. The point isn’t to push yourself, but to get the blood flowing in the body, and to activate the muscles that will be working through your actual workout.

Some examples of dynamic stretches are Lunge and Twists (where you lunge forward on one knee and twist your body to the side), and Knee Ups (where you step forward then step back on one foot and lift your knee, squeezing it to your torso with one hand).

What Studies Say About Dynamic Stretching

A study from the University of Alberta measured the impact on performance for women when they used static stretching, dynamic stretching, and light aerobic warm-ups.

While they found that different styles do have different impacts based on the individual, there was only one that had any significant benefit across the board. That was dynamic stretching, which improved performance and muscle use during the workout preceding the stretches.

This is by no means the only study that has shown similar results for both men and women. Static stretching,while it does somewhat wake the body, overextends some muscles while leaving others dormant. It doesn’t prepare the body for movements to come, and can actually lead to injury by putting strain in the wrong areas, which face impact when running, working out, or playing sports.

Adding Dynamic Stretching To Your Exercise

By now, you are hopefully convinced that dynamic is the way to go. So, how do you begin to incorporate it into your exercise routine? It is easy; you just carve out 10 minutes to deal with warming up rather than the two or three minutes of static stretching you were doing before.

It may seem like you are cutting into your workout time, but that is the beauty of it. Dynamic stretching is all about movement. You have probably done many of the moves before, such as lunges and burpees. These moves get the heart rate up, increase the oxygen in your blood, and get the muscles working. They are even a part of many strength routines.

You aren’t sacrificing any time by doing these warm-ups, but actually improving the overall performance during your workout itself. Still, some of us are sticklers for our timing. No problem! Just add ten minutes before, and keep your workout at the same length as it was before. All it does is give you ten extra minutes of calorie burning and muscle working. No one is going to see that as a negative, right?

Once you are done, it is time to cool down. This can be done dynamically as well. Many athletes have started incorporating yoga to the end of their workout. Yoga is unique as it holds moves like static stretching, but remains active like dynamic stretching. This makes it an interesting mix between the two that is great for coming down from an intense workout session.

It even helps to even out your heart rate and breathing, and soothes aching joints and muscles. Runners in particular can appreciate that. We all know that tense feeling that can come from a longer run, where the muscles feel bunched up and aching, and the knees are sore from pounding all that pavement. A few yoga asanas can really release the body, and help it recover more quickly from the strain.

Where To Find Good Dynamic Stretching Routines

You can make your own, of course. But there are some warm-ups that have been specially designed to give the maximum amount of benefit, in the shortest amount of time.

While you can find these routines on most fitness websites these days, YouTube is a pretty easy and reliable place that houses them from a wide array of trainers, at various intensity levels.

Here are some good ones to try out:

Best Full Body Workout by BuiltLean
Dynamic Stretch Warm Up Routine by Funk Roberts
Dynamic Stretching Workout by Autumn Fitness
The Ultimate Warmup Before Working Out by Class FitSugar
Dynamic Stretching Warm Up Exercises Before Workout by HASfit

Dynamic Stretching: The Ultimate Workout Booster

Next to a proper diet, dynamic stretching is one of the best things you can do to increase your athletic performance and see better results from your workouts. It also prevents injury, could potentially lessen recovery time, and improves your muscle gains during and after your workouts.

While we may have been raised on the idea of static stretches, we should be leaving those for the office. Part of why they may have been used in the past so often was that many of the calisthenic workouts done during the time were far less strenuous than what the average fit-nut does today.

Don’t risk your performance on outdated methods of fitness. Make your warm-ups more dynamic.