Dynamic Stretching Becoming Popular Among Athletes Trainers, coaches and physical therapists often preach the benefits of warming up before exercise or a sporting event. But a new type of pre-exercise routine – dynamic stretching – is gaining popularity as a way to increase performance.
“Dynamic stretching consists of functional-based exercises which use sport-specific movements to prepare the body for action,” says Gregory Dowling, a physical therapist in the Rothman Institute PT Department. “It involves moving parts of the body and gradually increasing reach and speed of motion.” According to Dowling, dynamic stretching is good for preparing muscle groups that are used during a specific sport.
Dynamic stretching doesn’t replace static stretching, which involves holding a position for a period of time. Dowling says that 5 to 15 minutes of dynamic stretching is ideal for athletes who are about to participate in a sporting event such as soccer, football or golf. Although there are different types of dynamic stretches for different types of events, Dowling offers these basic examples:
- Walking heel kicks – moving forward while kicking heels toward buttocks
- High kicks forward while walking and extending hands in front of body
- Side-step lunging
- Arm circles
- Sprinting steps – running forward with knees pumping in a skipping motion
Before trying any of these activities, Dowling says it is important to consult a healthcare professional. “Dynamic stretching has shown to be very popular for enhancing performance during an athletic event,” he says. “But there is still a need for static stretching. The two types of stretching should be combined to enhance performance and decrease injury.”