It’s a routine that you learned about way back in grade school gym class: stretch before any physical activity. Hold your groin stretches, leg stretches, quad stretches, or any other body part you’ll be actively working for 30-60 seconds, and you’re ready to get going!
This type of stretching, known as static stretching, isn’t a good lead into exercising, despite what you’ve been told. Static stretching maintains value in the rehabilitation of an injury and after a workout; this type of stretching can improve your joint range of motion, and the blood flow to muscles.
Static stretching isn’t particularly bad it isn’t but it’s simply being used at the wrong time, typically before exercising. Numerous studies have indicated static stretching before a workout can impair explosive movement or strength performance.
Having said that, you need a routine of warm up exercises before starting any workout or sport. If static stretching is a detriment in preparing your muscles, what’s the alternative?
The answer is dynamic stretching.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
The best way to describe dynamic stretching is stretching while in motion. These movement-based stretches not only warm up your muscles core temperatures correctly (static stretching doesn’t do this), the stretches are associated with the mobility and eccentric movements you’ll be doing during training. By bringing muscles close to their range of motion limit, though not exceeding it, your muscles are better prepared for any activity ahead.
Benefits of Incorporating Dynamic Stretching Into Workouts
Prepare in a Sport-Specific Way
Dynamic stretching prepares your muscles and body for the exercise or sport at hand. Static stretching doesn’t get you ready for sport-specific movements, but with dynamic stretching, your body will be equipped to handle the eccentric movements of your sport. This reduces the risk of injury, as your body isn’t stiff to these movements, having been prepped for these unique maneuvers. Additionally, the chance of injury is reduced further still, thanks to the improved range of motion in your joints, which can improve over time with consistent dynamic stretching.
More Explosive Power
Dynamic stretching is popular in sports that require explosive power from muscles, such as soccer, when going for a header or blowing by an opponent, or volleyball, with players rising to smash a volley into the ground. Your muscles and joints will be looser, allowing you to take full advantage of your range of motion, equating to maximum power from your body.
A lot of these explosive movements require different parts of the body working in co-ordination, which dynamic stretching also prepares the body for.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
If you’re used to static stretching before a game, you’ve probably likened it to a calm before the storm. Your body is essentially relaxing while you stretch, seducing your body into a state of relaxation. And then you’re immediately expected to compete at a high-level in game afterwards? Doesn’t make much sense.
Dynamic movements mentally prepare you for peak performance for the task ahead. Increasing the temperature of core muscles and building intensity related to your sport ahead of time seamlessly transitions you from warm-up mode to competitor mode.
Improve Your Nervous System and Motor Abilities
Practice makes perfect. If you want to get the most out of your body while training or during a game, dynamic stretching can play a role.
Since these stretches are conditioning your body to move in similar motions used in sport or training, your body will get more and more accustomed to it over time. Similar to your body’s ‘internal clock’ waking up right before your alarm clock because your wake-up time is consistent your body can react quicker, improving motor skills and nervous system reaction times.
You’ll find progress in your motor skills, translating to better in-game performance, if you opt for dynamic stretching over static stretching.
When Is The Best Time To Use Static Stretching and Dynamic Stretching?
The advantages of dynamic stretching, especially in sports that require power, speed, and eccentric movement, significantly outweighs the static stretching approach. However, static stretches like holding groin stretches, leg stretches, and quad stretches are still valuable and can be incorporated in any workout regimen. These static exercises improve your range of motion and maintain your mobility, though they’re better suited as a post-workout exercise, or sometimes as an individual exercise separate from your workout routine altogether. Static stretching is also an excellent rehab process after exercise or post-game, keeping you from stiffening up or cramping.
What does the research say about Static Stretching and Dynamic Stretching?
Nicolas Ferrara PT DPT reviews the scientific research and popular claims behind static and dynamic stretching in his article “Is Dynamic Stretching Better Than Static Stretching? The Research Reviewed“.
Looking to get the most out of your body when working out, or at game-time? Dynamic stretching can transition your body from rest mode to competitor, while boosting your speed and strength.
If you’re looking for a complete training routine that will get the most out of your body, SEMI offers personal training to reach your fitness or performance goals. Give us a call at 1-844-223-7364 to discuss how we can help keep you healthy and at your competitive best!