If you struggle with muscular pain during your workout, it might be time to switch up your warm up routine. Here, we’ll talk about dynamic stretching and how it can help you with your workout.
What is dynamic stretching?
Dynamic stretching is the use of movement to warm up specific muscles, getting them pumped and ready for exercise. It’s different from normal static stretching as it takes movements like squats and lunges and transforms them into stretches.1
What is static stretching?
Static stretching is a common workout warmup. It works by placing a certain muscle where it can be extended, and holding it there for a certain amount of time. While this is a good way to warmup, it lacks some of the benefits of dynamic stretching.
But what are the advantages of dynamic stretches?
Here are just some of the advantages of dynamic stretches:
- Dynamic stretching warms up the muscles to their working temperature, which thoroughly stretches them out and improves their overall function. You may think that static stretching lengthens the muscle and therefore makes it work better, but over time its performance can be lowered by this.
- Dynamic stretching is a great way to prepare for high-intensity workouts. It helps get your body ready for what’s coming, whereas static stretching will not help as much as it only loosens the muscles.
- Ready to get in the mood? Dynamic stretching is almost like a mini workout, so it gets your blood pumping and you’ll feel more mentally ready for the workout ahead. Static stretching, on the other hand, has the potential to make you feel rather sleepy – not something you want to be feeling prior to exercise.
- Dynamic stretching will also improve your mobility in both the short term (prior to your workout) and eventually the long term, as you increase your muscles’ performance and reduce the probability of injury. As you dynamic stretch more and more, you’ll notice a sustained positive effect on your overall performance during exercise.2
Four examples of dynamic stretching
Upper back stretch
Stand up straight, with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, and your knees slightly bent. Then, interlock your fingers and push your hands as far away from your chest as you can, all the while allowing your upper back to relax. You should feel the stretch between your shoulder blades.
While sitting on the ground with both legs out in front of you, bend your left leg and place the sole of your left foot alongside your right knee, so your legs are making a ‘P’ shape. Allow your left leg to lay relaxed on the ground and bend forward, keeping your back straight. You should feel the stretch on the hamstrings in your right leg. Repeat with your other leg.
Stand with one leg in front of the other, with your hands flat and at shoulder height pressed against a wall. Move your back leg further away from the wall, all the while keeping it straight and pressing your heel into the floor. Keep everything facing the wall and your rear leg and spine in a straight line. You should feel the stretch in the calf of your rear leg. Hold for a few seconds and repeat with the other leg.
Hip and thigh stretch
Stand up straight and get into a lunge position. Slowly lower yourself into the lunge, remembering to keep your back straight. Use your arms to balance if you need to. You should feel the stretch along the front of the leg that’s bent towards the floor. Hold for a few seconds and repeat on the other leg.3
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Last updated: 26 May 2020