Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 21, 2021

Stop Doing the Traditional Warm-Up, You Need Dynamic Stretching Instead

Stop Doing the Traditional Warm-Up, You Need Dynamic Stretching Instead

The most important part of your workout begins with the warm-up. It gets your mind, body, and muscles ready to tackle the workout. When we were younger we learned in gym class the importance of stretching before activities, but maybe it isn’t intense enough. What if there were another way to stretch your muscles that targets the muscles you’re about to work out? I’m talking about dynamic stretching which is a more effective and systematic warm-up exercise. Keep reading to learn new techniques to intensify your warm-ups.

What Exactly Is Dynamic Stretching?

I’m glad you asked! In short, it’s “stretching as you are moving”. Some examples would be: high kicks, jump squats, jump lunges, and knee-to-chest. The type of stretching you’re probably used to doing is called static stretching. It requires little movement, such as reaching down to touch your toes.

How Is It Different from Traditional Warm-Up?

Simply put, it’s more effective than traditional stretching. When you’re engaging in static stretching you are loosening up your muscles, but it doesn’t necessarily get them ready for what you’re about to perform. It’s more laid back which can trick your mind into relaxation mode. This can make for a difficult transition from a period of rest mode to work mode. Dynamic stretching helps improve the range of motion around your joints, reducing the risk of injury during your workout. Over time your performance will improve as well as maximizing your movements due to increased flexibility of your joints.

How Can I Benefit from Dynamic Stretching?

What’s so great about it? I’ve already listed some differences above, but check out what I’m about to tell you below. You’ll be glad you did.

  • It’s a full body warm-up. It warms up your body even faster than a low-level aerobic activity such as a walk or run on the treadmill. It builds up intensity before the actual event and prepares the body for peak performance. When you engage in a dynamic warmup, it helps your body prepare itself for the demands you’re about to put it through.
  • It improves kinesthetic awareness. It prepares the body for all the different movements you’ll be doing. Dynamic stretching mimics the exercises you’ll perform during a workout to help your body prepare for those movements. Kinesthetic awareness is being able to understand where your body is in time and space. To give you an example, try touching the tips of your fingers together. Having this awareness is very important when working out or playing a sport.
  • You’ll be way more flexible! Flexibility is the range of motion in a joint. Dynamic stretching improves the range of motion of the joints which will help you to perform better and could reduce the risk of an injury.

6 Simple Dynamic Stretching You Can Try to Reap the Benefits

1. Lunge with a twist

    via The Exercist on Tumblr

    1. Stand with feet about shoulder width apart.

    2. Step forward with your left foot into a lunge position.

    Advertising

    3. From your torso, twist your upper body to the left. Then, reach across your left side with your arms outstretched. (Think of pointing to the left from your belly button.)

    4. Maintain a slow, controlled movement throughout the exercise.

    5. Slowly move your arms to center and step forward with the opposite foot and twist to the other side.

    2. Side lunge touching heel

      via POPSUGAR

      1. Begin with the knees and hips slightly bent, feet hip-width apart, and the head and chest up.

      2. Staying low, take a slow, lateral step to the right. Keep your toes pointed forward and stay low. Extend the left knee, driving your weight to the right, flexing the knee and hip into a side lunge.

      3. As you lower yourself, reach across with your left hand to touch your right heel or ankle. Maintain good posture through the entire spine, keeping your head and chest up.

      Advertising

      4. Pause at the bottom of the motion, and then extend through the working leg to return to a standing position, transitioning into a lunge to the opposite side.

      3. Arm circles

        via Womanista

        1. Stand up and extend your arms straight out to the sides. The arms should be parallel to the floor and perpendicular (90-degree angle) to your torso. This will be your starting position.

        2. Slowly start to make circles of about 1 foot in diameter with each outstretched arm. Breathe normally as you perform the movement.

        3. Continue the circular motion of the outstretched arms for about ten seconds. Then reverse the movement, going the opposite direction.

        4. Hip stretch with a twist

        Advertising

          via Greatist

          1. Start in the push-up position with your back flat and hands and toes squarely on the ground.

          2. Bring one knee forward so that your foot is flat on the ground just behind the plane of your hands.

          5. High kicks

            via Runwell.com

            1. Reach your right arm straight out in front of you, parallel with the ground. Your hand should be flat with your palm facing the ground.

            2. Step forward to put your weight on your left foot and kick your right foot up towards your hand with your toes flexed. You should work towards touching your toes to your palm.

            3. Repeat, alternating legs.

            Advertising

            6. Jump squats

              via POPSUGAR

              1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

              2. Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively.

              3. When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible which requires control.

              4. Do two or three sets of 10 reps.

              The warm-up is the most important part of a workout to prepare mentally and physically. Dynamic stretching is an effective way to stretch muscles because it targets the muscles you’re about to work out, making it a more effective and systematic warm-up. Try these new techniques to intensify your warm-ups!

              Featured photo credit: Conscious Design via unsplash.com

              More by this author

              Erica Wagner

              Erica is a passionate writer who shares inspiring ideas and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

              Stop Doing the Traditional Warm-Up, You Need Dynamic Stretching Instead Feel Like Your Brain Not Working? You Need To De-stress 6 Things You Can Do When You’re Mentally Exhausted 4 Skills to Help You Read an Entire Book in One Day People Who Learn 10 Times Faster Know These 5 Techniques

              Trending in Exercise & Training

              1 15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine 2 10 Ways to Quickly Boost Your Workout Motivation 3 15 Important Benefits of Stretching Before, After, and During a Workout 4 The Ultimate Workout Routine for Men (Tailored for Different Fitness Level) 5 5-Day Workout Routine for Women to Get Strong and Toned

              Read Next

              Advertising
              Advertising
              Advertising

              Last Updated on April 19, 2021

              15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

              15 Static Stretches to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

              Stretching is one of those aspects of fitness that many people conveniently forget about. Perhaps you’re one of those who consider stretching nothing but a mere chore meant for ballerinas and gymnasts. While they are great for both, static stretches can offer a boost to any workout routine for people of all fitness levels.

              Irrespective of your reasons for working out, be it for sports or personal fitness, one thing is certain: stretching can help you. Static stretches come with myriads of benefits, such as improvement in flexibility and reduction in muscle tightness, which ultimately allow you to go through your workout routines with greater efficiency.

              For the purpose of this article, we’ll zero in on several great static stretches and take a look at the benefits and when they should be done.

              Benefits of Static Stretches

              Static stretches come with tons of benefits that can help you make the most of your workout routine. Some of them include:

              Improved Flexibility

              If you want to perform better, flexibility is of tremendous importance, irrespective of the specific workouts you do. Luckily enough, static stretches are all you need to get all the flexibility you desire.

              Flexibility, also known as the range of motion (ROM) around a joint, has been shown by several studies to be improved by static stretching.[1]

              Although the specific mechanism through which this occurs is still unclear, static stretches have been shown to greatly increase muscle and joint flexibility[2] and tissue length[3], which work in tandem to make your workout more effective.

              Prevent Injuries

              If you’re looking to push yourself to your training limits without coming down with injuries, then stretching will do you a great service. Research has shown time and again that performing the right stretches pre- and post-workout greatly helps with injury prevention.[4]

              Think of it this way:

              When you stretch, you literally push your joints and muscle fibers to their limit. This increases the stretch tolerance in these muscles and joints over time, and the increased tolerance allows you to perform more rigorous exercises without negatively impacting your body or risking an injury.

              Increased Blood Flow to the Joints

              Another benefit of stretching is increased blood flow – and by extension, nutrient supply – to the joints and muscles of the target areas. This, in turn, improves the performance of these muscles and joints due to the availability of more nutrients, improved oxygenation, and removal of metabolites.

              For static stretching, though, the mechanism of action isn’t as straightforward. When stretching statically, blood flow (capillary oxygenation) temporarily reduces due to vascular compression.

              Advertising

              However, immediately after releasing the stretch, the blood flow to these areas nearly doubles the pre-stretching levels.[5]

              Improvement in Recovery

              If you’ve been working out for some time, then you’ve probably discovered that a rigorous workout session can leave you battling sore muscles for days.

              Recovery essentially means getting rid of this soreness and returning your muscle fibers back to their tip-top condition.

              Research has shown that practicing static stretches after your workout session helps to reduce muscle soreness. And while some may argue that this effect is minimal, the fact still remains that stretching does help shorten your recovery time.

              Stretching allows tissues to be better hydrated after the induced tension is released, and this encourages reduced inflammation and faster repair of such tissues.

              Other reasons why you really should incorporate stretching into your workout include:

              • Improved relaxation
              • Increased movement efficiency
              • Reduction in the risk of lower back pain
              • Reduction in muscle tension
              • Improvement in neuromuscular coordination
              • Improvement in balance and postural awareness
              • Relief from cramping

              15 Static Stretches to Enhance Your Workouts

              Here are some amazing exercises that will keep your body in tip-top condition and take your workout routine to the next level.

              1. Neck Stretch

                While sitting tall or standing, place your right arm gently on the right side of your head, and place the other arm out to your side. Slowly pull your head towards your right shoulder until you can feel the stretch on the left side of your neck. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing, and repeat for the opposite side.

                Many people tend to hold stress and tension in their neck and shoulders. If you find this is the case, this is one of the best static stretches to use for a muscle release in this area.

                2. Chest Stretch

                  Stand upright, with your fingers interlocked behind your back, near your buttocks. While keeping your shoulder blades together and your back straight, push your arms up behind you until you feel the stretch in your chest. Hold for about 20-30 seconds before releasing.

                  Advertising

                  3. Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch

                  Shoulder Cross-Arm Stretch « CASS FITNESS

                    Stand upright or sit up tall on a chair or mat, and extend one arm out in front to shoulder height. Grab the extended arm with your other arm, and pull it towards your chest while keeping the extended arm straight. Continue the pull until you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

                    4. Triceps Static Stretch

                      Lift your arms overhead, with both arms slightly behind your head and bent at the elbow. Use your right hand to pull your left elbow until you feel a stretch in your triceps. Hold for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other arm.

                      Many know this stretch from gym class, but it really is one of the best static stretches for the arms.

                      5. Biceps Stretch

                      Arm Exercises | Seated Bent-Knee Biceps Stretch

                        Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your fingers pointing away from your body, place your two palms flat on the floor behind you. While your hands are steadily in place, slowly slide your butt downward toward your feet until you can feel the stretch in your biceps, shoulders, and chest. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                        6. Wrist Stretch

                        11 Best Tennis Elbow Exercises For Pain Free Mobility [PDF]

                          While standing up straight or sitting tall, extend your right arm forward to shoulder height with your fingers pointing toward the ceiling. Grab your right fingers with your left hand, and pull your right hand to bend the wrist until you can feel the stretch. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite arm.

                          7. Side Stretch

                            Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take your right arm and reach over your head towards your left side while bending your side. Keep bending your side slowly until you can feel a stretch on your right side. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the opposite side.

                            The muscles down your side body are notoriously difficult to stretch out. This is one of the best static stretches to try on a consistent basis to get them loosened up.

                            Advertising

                            8. Abdominal Static Stretch

                              Lie down on your stomach with your face towards the ground and your palms facing the floor as though you’re about to do a push up. While keeping your pelvis firmly on the floor, gently push your upper body up from the ground. This should make your feel some stretch in your abs. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before releasing.

                              9. Reclined Spinal Twist

                              Supta Matsyendrasana - Supine Spinal Twist - Yogaasan
                                Lie down, with your arms extended to the sides and placed on the floor. While keeping the right leg straight, pull up your left knee towards your chest, tilt it toward your right side, and then drop it slowly over your extended right leg.

                                Keep your shoulder blades flat on the ground, and you should feel the stretch around your back. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the opposite side.

                                10. Knees to Chest

                                Knee-to-chest exercise from Physical Therapists' Advice to Manage Pain at Home - The Active Times

                                  Lie on the ground facing the ceiling, with your knees bent. Hold your shins, and pull your knees toward your chest. This should make you feel some stretch in your lower back. Hold for about 30 seconds before releasing. If you’re looking to loosen up your back muscles, this is one of the static stretches you can do daily.

                                  11. Hip Flexor Static Stretch

                                  How to Do the Standing Lunge Stretch

                                    Stand upright in a standard lunge position, and place your two hands on your hips. Step out on your right foot into mini-lunge position, without your knee going beyond your right toe. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left side.

                                    12. Figure 4 Stretch

                                    How to Do a Figure 4 Stretch | Openfit

                                      Sit tall on the ground with both knees bent and both feet on the floor. Lift your right leg and cross it over your left thigh, while your left knee remains bent. Pull both legs inwards toward your abdomen for a deep stretch of your glutes. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat with the other leg.

                                      13. Standing Quad Stretch

                                        Stand tall while maintaining a straight posture. With your left hand, grab a pole, wall, or anything durable for balance. With your right hand, grab your right foot and pull up your heels until they touch your buttocks.

                                        Advertising

                                        Keep your knees close together while doing this, push your hip forward, and you should feel the stretch in your quadriceps. Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the other side. This is one of the best static stretches for the quads.

                                        14. Hamstring Stretch

                                          Sit on the floor with your right leg extended straight in front of you and your left leg bent. Reach forward with your right hand, and touch your right toes. This should cause a stretch in your right hamstring.

                                          Hold this position for about 30 seconds, and repeat for the left leg. If you’re unable to reach your toes, try holding your shin instead, but seek to go further every time you perform the stretch until you can touch your toes.

                                          15. Calf Stretch

                                            Sit on the ground and extend your right foot straight in front of you. Gently pull your right toes backwards with your right hand. This should cause a noticeable stretch in your calf.

                                            Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the left leg, if you’re unable to reach your toes, use a rope or towel to pull your toes inward.

                                            Bonus: Stretch With a Resistance Band

                                            Resistance bands offer a unique benefit from free weights and create tension throughout your movement. Get the free 30 Day Resistance Band Full Workout Challenge, and challenge yourself to stretch with a resistance band.

                                            When Should You Do Static Stretches?

                                            Static stretching is great when done correctly and at the right time. Over the years, research has shown that static stretching produces best results when done after working out or on rest days,[6] but not as a part of warm up routines before an explosive workout session.

                                            This is because static stretches have a cool-down effect on each muscle group and are more effective when done after the muscles are already warm.

                                            That doesn’t mean you must never ever perform static stretches before working out, but do it sparingly. Dynamic stretches, which involve more movement, are generally recommended for warming up as it helps the body prepare better for the work ahead.

                                            The Bottom Line

                                            Carving out the body of your dreams isn’t only about lifting weights and running. You need to keep your body “elastic” if you’re going to make the most of your training, and that’s the whole point of static stretches.

                                            Starting today, be sure to incorporate these static stretching exercises into your routine, and in no time, you’ll find yourself recovering faster and performing better than ever before.

                                            More Tips on Stretching

                                            Featured photo credit: Alora Griffiths via unsplash.com

                                            Reference

                                            Read Next