What is Dynamic Stretching? Why is Dynamic Stretching important?

In the gym we like to take you through many variations of warm-ups and movements (D-ROM) to prepare you for your workout.  You may be wondering if there is vital importance in doing a warm-up and movements?

The answer you will get from all the trainers in the gym is, “ABSOLUTELY!”  But that doesn’t always answer the question of why it is important that we spend the time to get you properly warmed up and mobilized.

After various warm-ups consisting of:  inch worms, rowing, running, and other goodies in order to get your body temperature rising, we like to spend time mobilizing and practicing movements which are associated with the workload for the hour.  This type of movement is called Dynamic Stretching.  For example,  Shawn would send you on a warm-up run around the block for 400 meters.  Once you are properly warmed up, he would have the class gather into a group  wherein he would take you through a series of movements that consists of:  air squats, leg kicks, lunges, and jump squats.  This series of dynamic movements would be great for setting you up to do a strength series of squats, dead-lifts, or split-squats.

Dynamic stretching are active movements of muscle that bring forth a stretch but are not held in the end position.  The opposite of this is static stretching, consisting of stretching in which the position is held for any given amount of time.  I will talk about static stretching in a later blog post.

This is very critical and important!  Dynamic stretching will be beneficial to your performance and set you up for the current workload!  Why is this critical and important?

Here is the science.  Your body has many mechanisms that need to be activated and stimulated.  When you put your body through a series of stretches while in motion, it sends signals from the brain to the muscle fibers and connective tissues in that area to prepare to do work.  Your body’s temperature begins to rise and blood is pumped to the working areas of the body.  Getting good blood flow to the area of the working muscles is very critical in order to supply the area with energey needed to do work.  Along with getting proper blood flow to the working area, the muscle fibers and connective tissues will gain more flexibility and range of motion.  Many studies have shown that dynamic stretching can help increase power, improve flexibility, and increase your range of motion.

In the Department of Physical Therapy of Wichita State University, L. Parsons and his research team wanted to find out how dynamic stretching, static stretching, or no stretching differed in performance when used before vertical and standing long jump testing.  Their findings showed that those participants who did a series of dynamic stretching before vertical jumping showed significant increases in performance than compared to static stretching, or no stretching at all.

In a Human Performance Laboratory in Hokkaido University, Japan, Taichi Yamaguchi and Kojiro Ishii wanted to find out how dynamic stretching, static stretching, or no stretching differed in power output of leg muscles when participants particpated in leg extension exercises.  Their findings showed that those participants who did a series of dynamic stretching before doing leg extension exercises showed significant increases in performance than compared to static stretching, or no stretching at all.

In other words, by doing dynamic stretching after your warm-up and before your workout, you are going to feel stronger and work up to a heavier load.  Another point to remember here is that dynamic movements are very sport and movement specific.  We will change the types of movements you do in the warm-up dependent upon what the work load is going to be for that day.

Additionally, your range of motion and flexibility will also be greater. Have you ever done air squats at the beginning of a warm up and felt like dog crap? I know I have!  But after doing a proper warm-up and working on the movements which mimic and simulate squatting, your actual squat will then feel more natural and will flow much smoother.

More examples of dynamic stretching are:  high knees, butt kickers, side kicks, skipping, arm circles, pvc pipe movements, scap pulls, etc.

This is how dynamic stretching is done in Sparta…

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Written by Matt

Matthew Brown has been involved in athletics for most of his life. He developed a huge passion for running at a very young age and ultimately competed for Chico State University in Track and Field for 4 years. After graduation he felt the continued drive to be involved in athletics in some way, and pursued a Masters degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Exercise Physiology. While working on his degree he was actively involved in the Chico State Track and Field program coaching both sprint and middle distance athletes in addition to working with them on their strength programs. His compassion for fitness and people continued to grow even after finishing his degree. He felt there was still room for growth and improvement in his overall knowledge in fitness and found a new home at Norcal Strength and Conditioning. While training at Norcal he found a new way to be competitive in fitness, and that was in the sport of Crossfit. After competing in a few competitions and training at Norcal for a year and a half he decided to pursue an opportunity as a personal trainer. He is excited to be a part of the sense of community and compassion that surrounds NorCal strength and Conditioning. Before Matthew attained his Masters degree in Kinesiology, he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an option in Management. He has been a supervisor for over 13 years at a large canning and packaging corporation. Working with a variety of people offers many types of challenging situations and Matthew loves to be a part of these experiences. With his long history of involvement in management and athletics, Matthew has the skills, leadership, and enthusiasm to help motivate any person from any walk of life to achieve their fitness goals.

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9 Comments

  1. There have been more than a few times I have walked into the gym stiff and sore, afraid to even attempt a squat and worried that my performance would suck. Dynamic stretching definately helps work out the “kinks” and prepares me for the WOD. Great post!!!!

  2. Matt B
    Matt B

    Yes it sure does! Keep up the good work Amy!

  3. Shawn G
    Shawn G

    Does anyone know where I can get the cliff notes to this post? :-) Good post Matt!

  4. hey matt! great post! i totally agree with you!! my body feels so much stronger and more flexible than ever! now its just the case of educating the rest of the world :)

  5. Matt B

    That’s right Derryn! It will slowly get out there though!

  6. Hey I have a question….what would be an example of a static stretch and are dynamic stretches the best types of stretches?

    • Static stretches are for cool downs/recovery. Static stretches are when you aren’t moving in a certain area. An example will be sitting on the floor, legs straight out and your torso 90 degrees to your legs, then reach out to your toes and HOLD the position for 30 seconds. This you do after sport. You can’t ask if dynamic is ‘the best’ stretch because each type of stretch is for a different purpose. Dynamic stretching is for a warm up, to get the blood flowing correctly and release any tensions. Ballistic stretches (I know you didn’t ask but its still nice to know) are when you literally bounce while stretching, so one example will be to stand upright, reach for your toes keeping your knees locked, and bouncing on your toes. Hope this helped!

  7. This needs to be sent out to every high school football team. I know almost all teams across the country waste their time and hurt their performance by all getting in lines and doing static stretches before games and practice.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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