I wouldn’t be doing my job at Performance Heatlh Center, if I wasn’t trying to educate all my athletes how to prevent injury and showing up to my office “all banged up”. I know I have touched on this before, but I cannot stress the importance of stretching, and when training, dynamic stretching!
If you look up Wikipedia’s definition of dynamic stretching, this is what comes up, “Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching beneficial in sports utilizing momentum from form, and the momentum from static-active stretching strength, in an effort to propel the muscle into an extended range of motion not exceeding one’s static passive stretching ability”.
Performing dynamic stretches in a “pre-workout” or warmup are a series of active stretches will help move the muscles through their range of motion, help improve range of motion surrounding the joints, help elevate core body temperature, and help to stimulate the nervous system so it is better prepared for activity.
Dynamic stretching primes the muscle to be ready to contract and relax, just as they would need to be ready to function during a sprint, run or jumping motion etc. Being dynamic stretching is an active movement, it helps to prevent over-stretching, which can also fatigue the muscles. Fatiguing the muscles prior to a workout can provoke injury or unfavorable symptoms to the area. That is one of the main reasons coaching have gotten away from prescribing static stretching before a workout. In fact, many coaches suggest athletes do a dynamic warm up every day to help keep muscles limber and ready to move at all times.
Dynamic stretching also helps to mentally prepare the athlete before the workout or competition. Static stretching can be more relaxing, and while there is definitely a place for it, static stretching can almost trick one’s body into relaxation mode and make it more difficult to transition to “competitor” or “beast mode”.
Dynamic stretches target major muscle groups when warming up. For example, when running, dynamic stretches target hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors and calves to help prime these areas for movement. Usually a couple of minutes of light jogging is recommended first to get the blood flowing before getting into a 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching. Walking butt kicks (heel to butt), knee hugs (walking knee the chest), walking toe touches, walking lunges with an overhead reach, glute bridges, heel and toe walks, are just a handful of great dynamic stretches to get one warmed up and the muscle groups prepared for the intensity of the workout that follows. It really is something so easy to work into a warm up, and would most likely replace a more static routine one is doing, so it would not add much time on to one’s routine either. Some of you reading this may find that you are already doing some type of dynamic stretching prior to a workout without even knowing it, which is great! Gold stars for you!
Should anyone reading this little article have any questions in regarding dynamic stretching and incorporating this into their pre-workout routine coming into the fall sports season, please feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org