Contributor: Carol Ferkovic Mack, DPT, SCS, CSCS
Dynamic stretching has gained in popularity. As a type of stretching based on movement, it’s a great way to warm up before exercise or sports. While most popular with sprinters and soccer players, dynamic stretches are ideal for any exercise that uses explosive moments, such as basketball, volleyball and tennis.
These stretches focus on actively moving your joints and muscles to accomplish the desired effect. Usually, this means 10 to 12 repetitions for any given dynamic stretch. These movements are different from traditional, static stretches, which involve moving a joint as far as it can go and holding it for a length of time. Typically, static stretches each take 30 to 60 seconds.
Dynamic stretches offer a lot of benefits. The careful, controlled movements in dynamic stretching more effectively warm up your muscles and prepare them for the activity ahead. They improve performance and reduce your risk of injury.
There are some key differences between dynamic and static stretching. Researchers say dynamic warm-ups may enhance power and strength performance. Static stretching, on the other hand, has no effect on power. For example, basketball players who combined dynamic stretching with plyometric (or jump) training showed improved vertical jump height and agility. Static stretching, however, may have a negative effect on balance and agility.
The sport-specific nature of dynamic stretching also may help athletes prepare for a practice or competition. Dynamic stretches are targeted to achieve only the flexibility for the specific sport. It doesn’t provide for excessive flexibility, and this may be a good thing. In runners, a study showed that an increase in hamstring flexibility (beyond what was necessary) is associated with a decrease in running economy — or how much fuel you need to run a certain distance.
Learn how to do several dynamic stretches: Try These 4 Dynamic Exercise Warm-Ups (Video)
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