4 Great Dynamic Stretches to Add To Your Warmup
To help clients understand the importance of dynamic stretching, CA trainer Darrell Gough has a go-to analogy: Saltwater taffy.
“If it’s cold and you try to bend it, the taffy breaks,” says Gough. “The same philosophy applies to your muscles and joints. To properly protect them, dynamic stretching is essential before jumping into your workout.”
There are two main types of stretching: static and dynamic. We’ve already covered static stretching, so let’s dive into the fundamentals of the latter form…
What is dynamic stretching?
Dynamic stretching is more, well, dynamic, than static stretching (which involves holding stretches in place, as in a toe touch).
According to Gough, dynamic stretching is all about replicating the movements that you’ll be doing in your workout to prep your body for those motions. It raises the temperature of your muscles and stimulates the nervous system, so that your nerves are more ready for the specific action that you’ll perform. Ultimately, this improves your range of motion and reduces your chance of injury.
“The major thing to know is that dynamic stretching needs to be more than just walking on a treadmill or hopping on a bike,” says Gough. “Taking a brisk walk is a great start, but it can’t be your full warmup because it doesn’t properly warm up the upper body and core.”
Because dynamic stretching preps you for the patterns you’ll use during your workout, it’s also great for improving your kinesthetic awareness. This refers to your ability to navigate space and the awareness of how you move. In practical terms, it reduces your “klutzy” moments (who hasn’t felt the pain of hitting their funny bone?) and promotes more fluid movements.
Dynamic stretching isn’t just for gym-goers or athletes. Morning is a prime time for everyone to incorporate dynamic stretches into their daily routine in order to move more freely and efficiently. Just ten minutes can help you rediscover more ease and pleasure in movement, and bolster your ability to safely complete functional motions such as raking leaves or carrying luggage.
4 dynamic stretches to try
There’s so much room for creativity when it comes to dynamic stretching. To help you get started, Gough shared a quick routine with four great moves that anyone can try.
When it comes to cross-over lunges, the benefits to your quads, hamstrings and glutes are not to be underestimated! Plus, they’re great for improving your balance and coordination.
Here’s how: To start, stand tall and place your hands on your hips. Cross your left leg behind your right and lunge as far as you can to your right side, landing on your heel (with your foot at 45 degrees). Return to your starting position. Repeat with the right leg, lunging to your left. That’s one full rep. Challenge yourself to 10 reps.
Stand to squat
This is one of Gough’s favorite moves to warm up the legs. Most of us have tight hips, so it’s great for opening them up and improving your squatting pattern.
Here’s how: Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Keeping your back as flat as possible, lean down to touch your toes. Then, sink into a squat. Be sure to keep the the weight in the heels and open the knees in order to properly open up the hips. Try 10 reps.
Side lunge to toe touch
Your inner thighs, glutes, quads and hamstrings will all feel this lateral movement! Plus, the rotation of your torso targets your obliques.
Here’s how: Stand tall with your feet hip-width distance apart. Step to the side with your right leg and touch the right foot with the left hand. Keep your left leg straight. Use your right heel to help push you back to your starting position and repeat on the opposite side. That’s one rep. Try 10 reps.
Hip-flexor glute activation
Hold this stretch for 30 seconds on each side.
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