If you’ve kept yourself in the loop with my recent blog posts, you must know the ins and outs of strength training and how beneficial it is for your overall health. You also know that, when it comes to losing extra weight and building overall endurance, HIIT is one of your best options.
This time, we’re going to tackle dynamic stretching, another critical — but often overlooked — component of sports and exercise. This form of stretching involves slow controlled movements through a range of motion. Momentum and muscular effort are utilised to extend your body to the end position where it will be held for just a few seconds before going back to the starting position, so the movement can be repeated.
While static stretches were preferred by many coaches and athletes in the past, multiple studies now prove that they can be detrimental for explosive movements that require strength and dexterity. Dynamic stretches are the ideal preparation for strenuous physical activity because they can do wonders for overall performance by increasing the blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues; reducing the risk of injury, and improving balance and coordination. Dynamic stretching will prepare you physically and mentally.
Still, the type of stretching exercises you must do depends on your specific goals. If you are looking to give your range of motion a good boost, for instance, static stretching will prove to be more beneficial. Nonetheless, for optimum preparedness, I’d recommend a training regimen that has room for both dynamic and static stretching, ideally with dynamic stretching for warming up and static stretching for cooling down.
To warm up with dynamic stretching, simply perform movements similar to the ones involved in the activity you are about to do. This will not only improve your flexibility and get your blood pumping but also tell your body what is going to happen during the main sport or workout, thus preparing your nervous system. The speed of the movements, their range of motion, the number of reps and the total time of stretching should be appropriate for your fitness level.
A lot of conventional dynamic stretches are similar to static stretches, in that they incorporate the same final body positions, but with the involvement of dynamic movements. Instead of holding a position for 20 seconds or one minute, you only hold it for a few seconds and perform the movement repeatedly over a set amount of time.
Great examples of simple dynamic stretches are arm swings, hip twists, and lunges. When performed properly and carefully, these exercises can dynamically stretch the shoulders, trapezius, and triceps; the external and internal obliques; and the glutes, hip flexors, hamstring, and calves, respectively. If you perform all these stretches consecutively, 10 to 20 reps of each could do the trick. Performing as many reps as you can over 20 seconds or any amount of time is also a good option. Don’t forget that you can make adjustments depending on your fitness level and the target activity.
It’s always best to start with shorter, slower movements that require minimal force, just enough to get your blood pumping and increase your body temperature, especially in the areas your movements are hitting. Feel free to increase the intensity as you progress.