Out with the Old in with the New: Stretching vs. Dynamic Warm Up

Are you still stretching before lifting? Read this...

First off let’s define what we mean by the two:

Dynamic Stretching: Is warming up the body going through movements that increase blood / oxygen flow, and warm up the muscle. Along with the tendons, ligaments and joints.

Static Stretching: Is holding a pose for usually a set count to stretch the facia (soft) tissue.

 

So just from that quick definition you can tell which will do more for you as an athlete. Would you run the 100m as fast as possible without building up to it first? Would you squat 500lbs without doing a few warm up sets before? The answer is NO! So why would you think your muscle will perform at peak performance without priming them first?

So unless you want to increase your risk of injury? don't want to get the most out of your workout? Or are just stuck in the past? Why are you still static stretching pre-workout?

Why & When do we do it?

So as a Personal Trainer or a Strength & Conditioning Coach, for many years we got our teams, athletes & clients in a circle and worked from the neck down to the ankle’s static stretching each muscle along the way. Now with more studies and research on the subject we know that dynamic warm ups:

1) Reduce the risk of injuries

2) Improve Power output

3) Better & quicker hand eye coordination. Overall more alert

4) More explosive 1st step & Vertical

5) Improved agility

 

When we do it:

As a personal trainer or coach the 1st thing I have my athletes do when they come into the gym or on the field is get some blood flow and increase their heart rate. Now this can be done in many ways: Light aerobic activity, i.e. running, skipping, rowing, bike. or a simple but effective dynamic warm up concentrating on the main joints and big muscle groups that we will be working on that day. It should take 5-10min and is arguably the most important part of your workout.

My Dynamic Warm up:

In an ideal situation we would have 10 yards of open space where we will perform each movement down & back. Or 20yards and do each movement 1 way. The order is determined by most important and least aggressive, building to more aggressive and less important.

1) Spider Stretch with Internal Rotation- Here we are looking to isolate the hip where the femur inserts into the pelvis. (SI joint)

2) Sole Sweepers - Great Hamstring a glute stretches

3) Quad Pulls with opposite arm raise - Quads with opposite oblique (more for coordination and balance)

4) Russian High Kicks - More aggressive hamstring stretch

5) Butt Kicks - Increasing blood flow in and through the quads and knees

6) High Knees - Increasing blood flow and Heart rate though the glutes and body.

7) Over & Under the Fence - Lateral hip opener with abduction & adduction warming up your inner and outer thighs.

8) Iron Cross - Lower back

9) Scorpion Stretch - Lower back

10) Dynamic Pigeon - One last chance to get into those hips and work out the last kinks. Find an angle that causes you discomfort and fight though.

Recovery

Now I get asked this question a lot. "When is the best time to re-stretch or warm up my muscles again after a workout to reduce soreness and stiffness?"

Great Question! Most people and me included used to stretch you as a cool down to finish a workout back in the day. We now know that your muscles are already fully stretched after a workout and the best time is later that day or the following morning. I like to use the same warm up routine I used to get ready for the workout. By increasing blood flow carrying nutrients and oxygen to the muscles this will speed up recovery, reduce soreness & stiffness. A light jog or brisk walk will also help get the ball rolling, but not finish the job.

Throwing in a little static stretching the next day at your desk is not a bad idea. Never did I say it’s bad. (Just not the best) Take what you can get! Also, myofascial release by foam rolling is a great tool the following day to work out the kinks. Or if you've got the time & money a good deep tissue massage will get the job done.

When it comes to recovery, Nothing will ever beat getting a good nights rest and highly dense macro nutriatns into your body.

Whatever way you choose your next workout and body will thank you!

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From a captain and leader on and off the field Mitchell was an every sport star growing up! Now a retired CFL, CIS, MFL & Team Canada Football wide receiver & punt returner with a BSc in Kinesiology, Mitchell brings knowledge from trainers and coaches from across the country. He has been in the fitness industry for over 15 years and is certified throught CanFit PRO as a specialized personal trainer, Crossfit Level 1, Precision Nutrition, TRX Coach, Olympic Lifting, Pregnancy & Postpartum Recovery & Life Coaching.

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