Stretching is an important part of any type of exercise, no matter the duration or intensity. It is a staple part of any workout routine as it provides so many benefits to your body before, during, and even after your workout. Stretching helps your body become more flexible, increasing its range of motion. This can help prevent any future injuries and can help your muscles produce a more effective and efficient workout.
Stretching can be broken down into two different types: static and dynamic. Static stretching is mainly differentiated from dynamic stretching in the stationary versus locomotion aspect, respectively.
Both types of stretching provide benefits that affect a variety of aspects throughout your body. Let’s dig a little deeper into the unique features of dynamic stretching.
What Is Dynamic Stretching?
As mentioned previously, dynamic stretching utilizes movement as static stretching does not. Therefore, dynamic stretching may also be referred to as active stretching. This enables your muscles and joints to mimic their full range of motion, usually before you start your exercise. Usually, the stretching exercise you perform will accentuate the main movements that you will soon accomplish.
With dynamic stretching, you are increasing the fluidity of your muscles and joints by slowly and constantly activating them. This is usually recommended to be performed before starting your workout. You can imagine the amount of impact and stress you can put on your muscles from starting at rest and jumping into a full out exercise routine. By incorporating dynamic stretching as a warm-up, you are essentially prepping your muscles and joints for the activity they are about to perform.
Benefits Of Dynamic Stretching
As exercising alone can provide you with many benefits, incorporating stretching before and after your workout can enhance those benefits and provide quite a few additional advantages. Dynamic stretching, in particular, prepares your body before the real deal. This, in turn, enhances your body to perform better and reduces potential injury.
Dynamic stretching allows your body to prepare for exercise. By moving your body in certain directions slowly but constantly, your muscles and joints are able to develop an idea of what is to come. By moving your body, you are able to increase the blood flow to that generalized area, loosen up your muscles prior to the workout and prepare the area to allow it to perform within its range of motion.
Dynamic stretching prior to a workout stimulates your body’s reflexes and helps your body to recognize its capability of movement. Prepping your body increases its awareness prior to exercise, which will, in turn, improve your speed, agility, and production. Increasing the quality of your workout helps your body gain the most benefits out of a single workout session.
Stretching before any type of physical activity induces a safer and injury-free performance. By preparing your body through similar motions, you are able to warm up your body before utilization. Stretching helps loosen up any stiffness and increases blood flow throughout the body, which aids in oxygen delivery that will eventually be needed prior to exerting energy.
Going straight into a workout without warming up your body can lead to serious injury, leaving your body vulnerable to straining your muscles. Therefore, consider incorporating dynamic stretches before any workout routine to not only enhance your performance but also decrease the risk of injury to your body.
Dynamic Vs. Static Stretching
It is important to understand the difference between dynamic stretching and static stretching. In recognizing the differences, you are able to fully integrate these stretching exercises into your exercise routine to get the most out of your workout. Here are a few facts in recognizing one form from the other:
- As we mentioned earlier, dynamic stretching involves a gentle and constant motion of various muscle groups. Preferably the ones that will be involved in your workout. For example, runners will typically incorporate more dynamic stretching in their legs before their run. This is in contrast to swimmers, who will primarily focus on the range of motion within their arms before swimming laps.
- Dynamic stretching is the preferred method prior to any physical activity. This is because mimicking the movements your body is about to endure helps prepare it by starting to increase your blood flow, loosen up any stiffness, and stretch it enough to activate its range of motion. This is in contrast to static stretching, which is recommended after a workout is complete. Stretching after your workout aids in the recovery process. After challenging certain muscle groups during your workout, stretching those muscles out aids in a more successful recovery process, increased blood flow, and increased flexibility.
- Dynamic stretching incorporates multiple muscle groups at a time, while static stretching typically focuses on a single muscle group following a workout. By stimulating a variety of muscle groups, you are able to utilize your time effectively and efficiently. Even if you choose running as your main physical activity, there are more muscles that are working than just your legs. This is why it is important to try to incorporate stretching a variety of muscle groups prior to a workout.
Although there are a couple of differences between static and dynamic stretching, there are similarities as well. They both help in preventing injury and increasing blood flow, both of which aids in better performance. Regardless of their differences, the most important thing to realize is the benefits that come out of it.
Examples Of Dynamic Stretching
Depending on the type of physical activity, you may want to primarily focus on the main muscle group that is going to be challenged. However, it is recommended to warm up your body in general prior to any workout. This is to promote overall awareness of your body prior to exercise. To start, here are a few dynamic stretches that you can incorporate before your workout:
Begin in a standing motion with feet flat on the floor. While balancing, gently lift one leg off the ground. With the leg above the ground, start swinging that leg in front and behind you in a slow and controlled motion. Switch legs after a few swings and repeat this exercise as needed. This stretch also helps warm up your abdomen as you engage your core while finding balance throughout this exercise. This is a great stretch to do prior to a run as it moves your hamstrings and hip flexors in preparation for your run.
Start by standing up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the ground. Bring your arms up beside you at about shoulder height. Begin slowly moving your arms, synchronized in small circles. After a couple of small circles, gradually start increasing the size of your circles. This exercise is great before swimming as it helps warm up your shoulders, biceps, and triceps, enabling its full range of motion. You can also add a spin to this exercise by reversing the direction of your circles as well.
Again, start in a standing position with feet placed firmly on the ground, shoulder-width apart. With your arms by your side, begin to raise your forearms up by bending your elbow at a 90-degree level. Keeping your feet on the floor, start twisting your torso from left to right in a slow and controlled manner. This exercise activates your spine and abdomen as you twist your torso, which could be helpful in sports such as football and tennis.
Jog To Quad Stretch
Simply start this stretching exercise by jogging in place for about two to three seconds. After that time, slowly begin to bend one knee to bring that same foot behind you. You should aim to have your foot as close to your buttocks as you grab that foot with the same hand. Hold this quadricep stretch for the same amount of time, about two to three seconds.
Then, begin to jog in place for the same amount of time and begin to bend the opposite knee as you repeat the same stretch. Remember to engage your core throughout this exercise to help you find balance after jogging in place.
Hopefully, by now, you are able to realize the importance of stretching before and after each workout by utilizing dynamic and static stretching, respectively. By warming up your body before exercise, you are not only preparing your body to perform better, but you are also preventing yourself from injuring your muscles and joints. By doing so, you can be sure to expect your body to produce a more effective and efficient workout.
Cooling down and incorporating static stretching after your workout is equally important. Static stretching focuses on more specific muscle groups that were challenged during your workout, which helps in the recovery process. Both static and dynamic stretching can increase your performance, prevent injury, and can increase your flexibility. So, before getting on your StreetStrider, make sure to set aside enough time to incorporate some dynamic stretches to prepare your body for that full-body workout.