What is Dynamic Stretching?
The short definition of dynamic stretching is “stretching as you are moving”. The opposite of dynamic stretching is static stretching, which is the stretching you are probably used to such as reaching down to touch your toes. Static stretching, as the name implies, requires no movement. For a video of me discussing the basics of dynamic stretching, check out this Youtube video: What is Dynamic Stretching?.
Dynamic Stretching Benefits
There are some HUGE benefits to dynamic stretching, which is an excellent full body warm up before any type of intense activity whether you’re about to play sports, or lift weights. Just about every athletic team in the country from little league to professional sports performs dynamic stretching before exercising.
Dynamic Stretching Benefit #1: Full Body Warm Up
The traditional warm up is to walk, or run on a treadmill, or some other low level cardio activity for 5-10 minutes to raise the temperature of your muscles to help prevent injury. Dynamic stretching warms your body up even faster than low level aerobic activity and offers other benefits. I sometimes combine a couple minutes of low level aerobic activity, such as jump rope, or even jumping jacks at the end of my dynamic stretching routine to get my heart rate up. Just an idea!
Dynamic Stretching Benefit #2: Improves Kinesthetic Awareness
The major downside of the traditional warm up routine of jogging is that it doesn’t prepare you for the intensity of your workout and all the different movement patterns that you will likely use. Kinesthetic awareness is the understanding of where your body is in space and time. For example, if you try to touch the tips of your fingers together on both hands, that’s a simple example of kinesthetic awareness, which is very important before working out. Dynamic stretching can mimic the exercises that you will perform during your workout to help your body get used to the movements.
Dynamic Stretching Benefit #3: Improves Flexibility
Flexibility is defined as the range of motion about a joint. Dynamic stretching can help improve the range of motion around the joints in your body to help you perform better and may prevent injury. While some research indicates stretching before, or after exercise may not prevent injury, it certainly does enhance performance and it’s worthwhile in my opinion.
Dynamic Stretching Routine & Exercises
Here’s an example of a dynamic stretching routine I use to get a full body warm up in only a few minutes. I have added detail below each exercise to give you more ideas depending on your fitness level.
Dynamic Stretching Exercise #1: Lunge With A Lean
This dynamic stretching exercise helps loosen up your psoas and hips, while engaging your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and even calves. I love this one! Just remember to complete this exercise slow and controlled to really feel the stretch and reach with your arm. You can also do this exercise while walking forward, instead of staying stationary.
Dynamic Stretching Exercise #2: Side Lunge Touching Heel
This the basic version of a more advanced dynamic stretching exercise you take your right elbow and bring it as close to your heel as possible if you are lunging with your right leg. By just touching your heel with the opposite hand, you still get a nice groin stretch, but it does not open up the hips as much as trying to touch your heel with your elbow.
Dynamic Stretching Exercise #3: Straight Leg Kicks
This is an awesome hamstring stretch, which also brings your core stability into play. Just be careful not to kick too hard, which would turn this from a dynamic stretch into “ballistic” stretch, which means the range of motion is beyond what you can handle comfortably.
Dynamic Stretching Exercise #4: Knee To Chest
You can’t see from the photo below, but as I’m bringing my knee to my chest, I’m also raising my opposite foot off the ground, like a calf raise. This helps you bring your knee those extra few inches higher to accentuate the stretch.
Dynamic Stretching Exercise #5: Arm Circles
I complete this stretch religiously, but I use a more advanced version where I hold 10lb plates, or dumbbells, then circle each arm backwards several times, then forwards. Your shoulder has the largest range of motion of any joint in your body, so it’s imperative to properly warm it up. While I love this exercise, a close second is the T-Pushup (See: Push Up Variations).
I know there is a lot of information in this post, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. I hope it gave you a helpful overview of dynamic stretching and you are excited to try this dynamic stretching routine on your own.
If you tried this routine, what do you think?
Your warm up recommendations helped me get my heart rate up and prepare me for my excercise routine. Thanks for the info. Love all the information on your site.
Just performed all of the exercises. Frankly, they don’t look very “interesting” in the picture but after trying them out I’ll definitely make a supplement to my warm-up. Looking forward to other great warm-ups.
@Dmytro – Thanks for the comment. I use this warm up all the time, and especially a couple of the exercises like the straight leg kicks. There are a bunch more routines I use, so I look forward to adding more soon.
goooooooooooood job dude……..
dude great site
how long should these be done , Im trieng to incorparate dynamics into my fastpitch softball practices and do away with static stretching
@mike – I think you can do each exercise for 10 reps each for 2 sets each. It should take approximately 3-5 minutes.
Do you have any references for dynamic stretching warming your body up even faster than low level aerobic activity? And also the safety of performing dynamic stretching before raising core temperature (and therefore increasing range of motion first)?
@JC – That’s a great question. Most of the research compares static vs. dynamic stretching and not low level aerobic warm ups. Here’s one I found that was fairly close to what you are asking => http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19675479. What many top strength coaches are doing now is (1) starting with foam rolling and the massage ball, (2) go into dynamic stretching exercises, then (3) activation exercises. In terms of whether dynamic stretching is safe, it depends on the fitness level of the trainee and the exercises chosen. For example, a 65 year old may do assisted body weight squats, whereas a trained athlete might even do jump squats as a dynamic warm up.
For months now i have been getting up early in the morning and I have been having such a hard time getting warmend up and ready for any sort of athletic movements. I used this today in conjunction with some walking and I finally felt ready.
Thank you for posting quality information…
@Daniel – happy to hear that, Daniel. Thanks for sharing.
Marc can you tell me the alternate exercise of forward lunge it very hard for me to do
Waiting for your reply
Instead of a forward lunge, you can do a reverse lunge or a stationary lunge. I would recommend starting with a stationary lunge, and when you’re confident with that exercise you can progress to a reverse lunge.
Try those out, and let us know how it goes!
-Kristin, BuiltLean Coach & Managing Editor
Nice one bruh!!!