We’re all told we need to stretch more – it’s good for your health, digestion, stress, and overall well-being. But while we all aspire to make sure we stretch, we sometimes forget to make sure we’re stretching the right way. If you find yourself always sitting still on the floor trying to touch your toes, it’s time to shake things up.
What is dynamic stretching?
There are two main types of stretching: dynamic and static. Unlike static stretching which is, well, static, dynamic stretching involves getting the body moving. Instead of doing the splits or touching your toes, dynamic stretching means warming up the muscles and joints in more fluid motions, like circles and shoulder rolls.
To be clear, dynamic stretching does not mean bouncing during a stretch. Bouncing, or moving back and forth in a static stretch, is much more likely to lead to injury than dynamic or static stretching.
Whenever using a static stretch, it’s important to always warm up beforehand. Cold or stiff muscles are much more likely to tear than warm, relaxed ones. If you stretch regularly and find yourself unable to bend as far as you normally do, it’s typically a sign that you need to warm up.
In dynamic stretching, you’re warming up as you stretch. Combining motion and flexibility means you wake up your body on multiple levels. This form of stretching doesn’t “push” yourself like static stretching can sometimes do, and that’s a good thing. Pushing too far can lead to injury. Dynamic stretching is the safer route to increase range of motion without putting your body at risk.
Dynamic stretching for exercise
Some athletes are familiar with forms of dynamic stretching already. Butt kicks, arm circles, and high knees are beneficial before any activity to both strengthen the muscles and warm them up. When you always stretch in the same position, you’re missing out on the chance to wake up your whole body. That’s why dynamic stretching is so practical. It warms up the muscles while mimicking the movements you make in real life.
Dynamic stretching for patients
If you’re currently in physical therapy, it is definitely best to consult your physical therapist before starting any dynamic stretching (or any stretching at all, for that matter). Once you’re in the clear, it’s best to start slow and only work in a range with which you are comfortable. If it hurts, stop. That’s your body saying you’ve gone too far.
Before and after
Remember to stretch not only before, but after exercising. Because your muscles are already warmed up, the right cool down helps your body maintain flexibility for the long term. Right after a good workout, you want to take the time to ease yourself back into the rest of your daily routine. Get in the habit of stretching before and after exercise to help maintain all your hard-earned progress.
We’re here for every step of your fitness journey. For pain management, recovery and beyond, we want to help you reach your fitness goals. i’move offers fitness classes for adults, kids, and athletes for personal fitness tips at whatever level you may be. We’ll help find the right routine for you.