Dynamic Stretching Routine
By Andrew Heideman, MPT, ATC, PES
Stretching for Flexibility and Warm Up Exercises
Watch This VIDEO to Learn Dynamic Warm Up Exercises.
If you are like most people, you probably have not heard of dynamic stretching. When one thinks of stretching it usually means bending or straightening a body part until a stretch is felt in the muscle. Then holding the position for a certain period of time. Maybe even bouncing a little at the end range of the stretch position. This is how most of us learn how to stretch back in our early school days. It works for all of these years, so why change now? Well, science is now supporting a more beneficial way to stretch known as dynamic stretching. This is not to say that we need to stop stretching the way we have been, but to ask ourselves why we are stretching. How you answer this question will decide which method is best for you.
Stretching is an important part of orthopedics, dynamic and static stretching. Most importantly, this should not just be done before and after a workout. It should be done at different periods throughout exercises. Some research suggests that as much as an hour of stretching may be helpful to have the effects last for more than an hour during exercise.
A Dynamic Stretching Routine
Most dynamic stretching routines will focus on movements that mimic the sport that you are about to participate in. You will move your joints through their full range of motion. Overall, this can help improve heart rate and blood flow to help you run efficiently and safely. Dynamic stretching seems to be more beneficial for preparing the body to perform athletic activities. Dynamic stretching is simply stretching muscles while moving. This method of stretching incorporates speed of movement, momentum, and muscular effort to bring about a stretch. It is the stretch of choice when trying to warm-up the muscles before playing a sport.
It allows increased blood flow to your muscles, lubricates joints, and decreases muscle tightness. Opposite to static stretching, dynamic stretching provokes an excitatory response. So, not only do you increase flexibility and range of motion, you also help wake-up the neuromuscular system. To be most effective, you will want to incorporate movements that are sport specific. Keep in mind that you warm-up to stretch and not stretch to warm-up. So before trying to stretch, you will want to perform at least 3-5 minutes of a full body warm-up prior to stretching.( i.e. jogging, jumping rope, jumping jacks, etc.) The following examples of dynamic stretching are performed 2-3 times each for about 10-20 seconds.
If you are stretching simply to improve flexibility or range of motion, then the traditional method of static stretching is fine. With this method, a stretch is held for 20-30 seconds. When performed routinely (daily), it can help increase the length of your muscles, or soft tissue and decrease stiffness. Traditionally, this same method has been used to warm- up or loosen up muscles before an athletic performance. Research is now showing that this may not be the best way. A neuromuscular inhibitory response to static stretching causes the straining muscles to become less responsive and stay weakened for up to 30 minutes following static stretching. This does not mean that static stretching is bad, it is just not the best choice if you are trying to warm up to play sports.
Also, static stretching routines involve moving a muscle through its full range of motion. Then holding it there for at least 30 seconds. This form of stretching should only be done after a warm up or athletic activity to help prevent injury.
Examples of Dynamic Stretching.
- Lower Back
- While walking, take an exaggerated high step, driving, the knee as high as possible, while pushing up onto toes of the opposite foot
- Alternate swinging arms up and down with the elbows bent
Walking Straight Leg Kicks
- Lower Back
- While walking, kick one leg out keeping the knee straight with your toes flexed towards the sky, and reaching with opposite hand to touch the toes with the fingers. Repeat for each side 6-7 times.
Running Butt Kicks
- Hip Flexors
- While jogging, with a slight forward lean, flex the knees enough to allow heals to touch your glutes with each step. Stay on the balls of your feet. Repeat for about reputations.
- Lower Back
- Hip Flexors
- Laying face down, legs together, arms perpendicular to body and feet flexed so that you are only touching the ground with your toes. Kick you left leg towards your right arm , then perform the same with right leg towards left arm. Repeat 8-10 times. Begin slowly and use caution as to avoid irritating your lower back.
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