Focus on Flexibility: Dynamic Stretching
In the last installment of “Focus on Flexibility”, we talked about static stretching. The compounding effect of 10-15 minute bouts over time leads to an increase in our overall flexibility. Ultimately, this results in a lower injury risk, greater range of motion, and the ability to hold our bodies in a correct postural position. This week, we’re going to break down a compliment to static stretching: dynamic stretching.
What is dynamic stretching?
Dynamic stretching takes the increased range of motion, developed through static stretching, and utilizes it during movement. We’ve all likely seen a youth sporting event warm up: high knees, swinging the leg back and forth, bounding, variations of skipping. All of these are forms of dynamic stretching. At its core, dynamic stretching involves actively moving a joint through its range of motion.
What are the benefits?
While static stretching focuses on the muscle, dynamic stretching focuses more so on the joint and its ability to move pain-free and smoothly. Benefits of dynamic stretching include muscle activation, improvements in range of motion, and may lead to greater power output during a strength training session.
When should I incorporate it into my training?
If you’ve been following along, I might have given this away, but dynamic stretching is ideally performed during a warm-up, pre-workout. By utilizing the joints through a full range of motion in bodyweight movements, we prepare the body for the training session we’re about to complete. Dynamic warm-ups will incorporate exercises to mobilize, stabilize, and activate a variety of muscles in the body, dependent on the type of workout that will follow. Check out the article and YouTube video here for quick, dynamic warm-up sequence!
Tips and Tricks
Active dynamic stretching is the recommended form, based on the research. This involves moving a limb through its full range of motion to the end ranges and repeating 8-10 times. Common exercises include: lunge with a twist (pictured above), knee to chest walks, high kicks or Frankenstein walks, or Spiderman lunges. These movements should be fluid and smooth, avoiding bouncing in the stretch. Although pulsing may feel as if it’s stretching, it signals the protective reflex of the muscle to tighten and prevent overstretching.
Key Word: Dynamic