Dynamic Warm Up & Dynamic Stretching 101: Everything You Should Know
On a fundamental level, stretching comes naturally and instinctively. Say after waking from sleep or after extended periods of inactivity. Genetics is the reason for that. However today, stretching isn’t simply a mindless activity that echoes millions of years of evolution (animals stretch too), it is now an integral tenet of physical fitness. And for good reason.
That said, fitness stretching didn’t always enjoy such widespread support. The American College of Sports Medicine only started recommending flexibility exercises (stretching) for athletes in 1998. Furthermore, for several decades, static stretching was the gold standard.
But with in-depth research of static stretching effectiveness revealing significant drawbacks, the dynamic stretching steamroller kicked into gear. Eventually, dynamic stretching replaced static stretching as the warm up style of choice for virtually everyone, from the average Joe and Jane to professional athletes.
This article discusses all of the noteworthy details relating to dynamic stretching that should fill up the holes in your knowledge about dynamic warm up.
What is dynamic stretching?
Dynamic stretching refers to active movements of muscles that result in a stretch. Put simply, it’s stretching while in motion, as opposed to stretch and hold (static stretching). The goal with dynamic stretching is to prime the muscles and tendons for maximum output, get optimum blood flow going (you need to get energy to where it’s needed), and improve flexibility prior to a training, actual game, or workout session.
The movements are typically repetitive, and with each successive pass, the range of motion is extended up to a safe limit. For example, high knees, arm circles, or side kicks.
Is there a difference between dynamic stretching and dynamic warm up?
The short answer is no.
Dynamic stretching and dynamic warm up are synonyms. However, it is understandable that some may say they’re interchangeable in certain contexts but not in others. This is because it is standard (and recommended) practice to do dynamic stretching before an actual workout or game. In this sense, it is part of the warm up, in which case the term ‘dynamic warm up’ is appropriate.
Still, and especially for athletes and training sessions, warm up doesn’t entirely comprise of a routine of dynamic stretches. In fact, it is common to engage in activities like a short run or jog, rowing, or inch worms for quite some time before doing dynamic stretches. The aforementioned activities are traditional warm up activities, and the term ‘dynamic stretching’ is often used in this context to emphasize the distinction.
Nonetheless, in this guide (and in general fitness literature), both terms are typically used interchangeably.
This video series will demonstrate how to incorporate specific dynamic stretches in your day to day life in order to keep your body primed for your training, sporting event, or athletic competition.
We focus on incorporating movement in all planes of motion, in order to teach effective, dynamic, and engaging exercises. We strive to provide an environment that promotes not just strength building but also encourages maintenance and improvement of range of motion throughout life.
What are the benefits of dynamic stretching?
1. It activates the right muscles. It goes without saying that you should do dynamic stretches on the muscles you plan on using during workout. You want to do walking lunges as a preferred dynamic stretch for example, if you intend to do weighted lunges in the gym.
This way, your hips, legs, core, glutes, stabilizing muscle fibers and connective tissues are warmed up before you add additional weight.
2. It improves body and neuromuscular awareness. Dynamic stretching with the muscles you plan on using afterwards gets you in the right frame of mind as it challenges your coordination and balance.
Your nervous system is elevated as is your motor ability, which is crucial to reaping the maximum rewards of the workout and/or improving performance.
For example, doing walking lunges requires taking the hips, especially the hip flexors, through increasingly greater range of motion. This systemic increase allows for improved muscle engagement for each exercise.
4. It enhances muscular strength and power. This follows from the increased range of motion that enables you to perform each exercise more efficiently. Activating the muscles and increasing their range of motion also help “wake up” any underactive muscles leading to enhanced muscular power and strength.
5. Furthermore, dynamic stretching also elevates core muscle and body temperature. The implication is that there’d be an increase in nerve conduction velocity, enzymatic cycling, muscle compliance, and accelerated energy production.
In layman speak, dynamic stretching will give your body systems a kick to prepare for further movement.
All exercises can be done anywhere.