No matter what level of activity you are about to do, it is important to get your body warm and ready prior to exercise. The benefits include reducing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), increasing range of motion, a decrease risk of injuries, and performance improvement. The benefits can be acquired by anybody and can help maintain a long and healthy lifestyle.
Do You Like Being Sore and Injured?
Of course not! For some, getting into the gym or being active isn’t the problem, it’s the after effect. The soreness you are feeling 1-5 days after is a result of DOMS, small tears in the muscles that are a result of you working your muscles. Now I’m sure the idea of having “muscle tears” isn’t pleasant, but I assure you that muscle soreness is normal post-workout. In order to reduce the severity of these tears (reduce how sore you are feeling the next few days) it’s important to prime your body by getting blood to those muscles. This allows them to relax and be primed for a workout.
Warm muscles can also prevent injuries by allowing for better body mechanics. If muscles are cold and not as relaxed as they should be, this could allow for poor form on lifts and other exercises. Putting the body in compromising positions puts joints and muscles at risks and can cause other injuries.
How Do I Get Warm?
Static stretching has been traditionally taught in the U.S. as a proper way to warm up and is one of the most commonly known ways to get ready for exercise. There are three main ways of stretching: Static, ballistic, and dynamic.
Static stretching: Holding a position at its end range of motion for 30 seconds or more
Ballistic: Going to the end range of motion and lightly bouncing past the end range
Dynamic: Using several sport-specific, active movements to get a stretch without holding the end range of motion
Low on Time?
Even though static stretching has been taught frequently, it may not be the best for you. If you only have a few minutes to an hour in your day, you would want to get warm as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is where dynamic stretching comes into play.
Let’s say you have 2 different static stretches for each your legs and arms. Each one lasts 30 seconds and you do each side 2-3 times. This means that you would spend 8-10 minutes doing only two stretches and only increase blood flow to the muscles slightly. Some static stretching routines have 5+ stretches, which would take 15-20 minutes before any exercise has even been done!
If a dynamic stretch routine was done, it could consist of several movements done 2-3 times per side and per body part. This takes less than 12 minutes to complete, increases blood flow to muscles and BONUS: has been known to increase speed, power, and strength output! The best part about dynamic stretches is that it is adaptable to so many exercises that the possibilities are endless!
Some dynamic movements include :
- Bird Dogs
- Bodyweight Squats
- High Knees/Butt Kicks
- Banded Rows
- The list goes on and on!
Train For Specificity, Train For Life
As always, if the sport or activity you do requires the benefits of static stretching (such as flexibility) then there’s no need to avoid using static stretches! If you do find yourself low on time and want performance benefits, then don’t be afraid to try a dynamic warm up! You can make it as specific for your sport as you want and can get the most out of your time. What matters most is that you’re taking care of your body beforehand to improve your quality of life and enjoy your favorite activities.
Written by Kris Francisco, 2017 Fall Intern