Dynamic Stretching to Warm-up and Avoid Injury
Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching that involves continuous movement, unlike static stretching where you hold the stretch at a point of discomfort.
It is the preferred stretching method prior to your workout, physical activity, or sporting activity.
It is the most effective warm-up method to avoid injury or muscle strain, since your muscles will be cold when starting warm-up, and you will not be maximizing your stretch as with static stretching.
Cold muscles = not a good time to static stretch!
This form of stretching will help you to warm-up your muscles, increase your blood flow, and loosen your joints. These stretches are best performed when you stretch the entire body:
Dynamic stretches are also known as “sport-specific” stretches, as they simulate the exercise or sport you are preparing to perform. For instance, if I am going to be doing a workout that includes bench press for the chest muscles, then I simulate this movement doing a standing bench press with my arms.
These stretches are best performed pre-workout, as it is an excellent way to prepare your muscles for intense activity or resistance training.
The benefits of are as follows:
- Increase blood flow and circulation
- Improve Flexibility
- Elevate muscle temperature – Key to avoiding injury, as your muscles are more elastic when warm, and more stiff and rigid when cold
- Very safe with low risk of injury and muscle strain – just make sure movements are generally slow, controlled, and rhythmic
- Can be performed in a shorter time than static stretching
The stretches below are simple, basic stretches that will fully prepare you for your workout routines or any physical activity. Follow them correctly, and your risk of muscle strain or injury is greatly reduced.
- Torso Rotations
- Neck Rotations
- Arm Rotations
- Knee to Chest Lifts
- Leg Swings
- Side Bends (Arms up)
Performing the stretches above will ensure that you achieve a complete warm-up and are ready to attack your chosen workout. The video below illustrates the basics of a dynamic stretching routine.
Your muscles are now warm, stretched, and motivated…let ’em go!
Stretching and Warm-up Summary
An effective blueprint for a workout routine, from pre-workout through the post-workout cool-down, covers the following 4 routines:
- Light cardio to warm-up – 1 to 2 minutes
- Dynamic stretching – 2 minutes
- Main Workout – Varies depending on the physical activity
- Static Stretching (Cool down) – 2 minutes
Finally, always remember the Golden Rules of stretching:
- Always maintain good posture
- Focus on proper breathing – slow, deep breaths provide more oxygen to your blood which in turn provides more oxygen to your muscles (inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth)
- Never jerk or bounce – Stretch should be a controlled movement
- Only start a stretching routine when your muscles are warmed up (2 minutes of light cardio)