Stretching is vital to your body as it helps improve your muscle mobility, prevents joint stiffness and muscles tightening.
If practiced regularly, stretching can help improve muscle flexibility, range of motion, and decrease the occurrence of cramps.
For the ultimate warm-up, add dynamic stretches to prevent injury and enhance training performance.
Stretching works by increasing blood flow to your muscles. This enables your body to deliver more oxygen where it's needed to recover. It can also generate energy for maximizing your training sessions.
A commonly asked question is; should you perform dynamic or static stretching?
Like most topics related to health and fitness, there are many opinions on the best stretching techniques for your workouts.
Let's take a look at the difference between static stretching and dynamic stretching, along with the relevant research data.
Static stretching is the most commonly known type of stretch. It involves no movement and should be held in position for between 10-60 seconds each set.
Some examples of static stretching include calf stretches, flamingo stretches, or hamstring stretches.
While static stretching can increase the flexibility of your muscle tissue, research suggests long static stretching should not be done prior to a workout. This is because it may hinder athletic performance as the "relaxed muscle" would not be prepared for the vigorous demand of high-intensity activities.
Due to this, we recommend performing static stretching only after your training sessions.
On the other hand, dynamic stretching works your muscles and joints through a range of motion with each repetition. It is therefore ideal for pre-exercise as it activates your muscles, prepares the whole body for movement and increases blood flow through the body.
One study shows that dynamic stretching can help enhance muscles power and strength. Whilst other research concludes that dynamic stretching can help to prevent severe injury and improves neuromuscular control during the active movements.
So performing your dynamic stretches before each training sessions will increase blood flow to the muscles, improve strength and power and reduce the risk of injury.
Aim for 10-15 minutes of dynamic stretching before each training session for maximum benefit.
To get started with dynamic stretching, we have put together 8 of the best dynamic stretches to help enhance your training sessions.
Let's dive right in!
Top 8 Dynamic Stretches
The scorpion is performed facing the floor and is a great thigh stretch.
Here's how you can perform the Scorpion with proper form:
- Lie on the floor, face down, in a "T" formation.
- Roll your body to the right and bring your left heel across your body.
- Repeat for the other side.
2: Dynamic Side Lunge
The dynamic side lunge is a great way to activate the quadriceps and gluteal muscles.
Here's how you can perform the Dynamic Side Lunge with proper form:
- Stand in a wide-stance with your toes slightly pointed out.
- Sink into a side lunge and keep your right knee behind the toe, activating your gluteals at the bottom of the movement.
- Push through your right heel to raise your right knee.
- Repeat on the other side.
3: Arm Circles
Arm circles are a simple yet effective exercise. This helps to build shoulder endurance and reduces the risk of rotator cuff injury. Your shoulder has a large range of motion and it is crucial to thoroughly warm it up.
Here's how you can perform the Arm Circles with proper form:
- Circle your arms forward for 30 seconds each
- Circle your arms backward for 30 seconds each.
- You may like to hold a weight whilst doing this exercise for an advances version.
4: Trunk Rotation
Trunk rotations help to warm up your entire body using a wide range of motion.
Here's how you can perform the Trunk Rotation with proper form:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Place your hands on your hips.
- With soft knees [not locked straight], work the hip around in complete full circles.
5: Leg Swings
Leg swings are a simple yet effective exercise to activate the muscles in your lower body.
Here's how you can perform the Leg Swings with proper form:
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold onto a wall or chair for added stability.
- Swing one leg back and forth as high as you can.
- Keep the other heel firmly planted on the floor.
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
6: Hip Stretch With Twist
The hip stretch with twist is the perfect exercise to warm up your hips and enhance hip mobility.
Here's how you can perform the Hip Stretch with proper form:
- Start in a push-up position.
- Step forward with one knee then extend your opposite arm straight, reaching for the ceiling.
- Keep your core tight and hold at the top of the position for 2-3 seconds.
- Repeat with the opposite leg and arm.
7: Knee to Chest
The knee to chest strengthen the lower back and prevent unwanted lower back pain.
Here's how you can perform the Knee to Chest with proper form:
- Lie on your back
- Bring one knee toward your chest and feel the stretch
- Repeat with the opposite leg.
The inchworm warms up your core and enhances full body flexibility.
Here's how you can perform the Inchworm with proper form:
1. Start by standing up with your feet shoulder width apart.
2. Lower your upper body until our fingers reach the floor
3. Place your hands flat on the floor then walk your hands forward as far as you can.
3. Hold for few seconds in the extended plank position, engaging your core.
4. Return to the starting position by walking your hands back to your toes.
Here are some photos to help demonstrate
There, you have 8 dynamic stretches you can perform for 10-15 minutes before each training sessions to maximize your performance. Don't forget to also perform static stretches after your workout.
Here's a recap:
- Dynamic Side Lunge
- Arm Circles
- Trunk Rotation
- Leg Swings
- Hip Stretch with Twist
- Knee to Chest
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