Dynamic stretches are a great way to help you warm up for exercise, improve flexibility and performance.
Dynamic stretches are active movements of muscle that provide a stretch but are not sustained in the end position. The opposite of this is static stretching (see our article on static stretching), in which the position is held statically at the end of range for any given amount of time. Dynamic stretches are the most appropriate to warm you up pre activity; in contrast, static stretches are more appropriate in the cool down, post exercise.
When using dynamic stretches as part of your warm up, it is important that they are sport or activity specific. Ideally you would combine some dynamic stretching with specific exercises or drills for the activity you will be doing. For example, with football the dynamic stretches, lunges and leg swings would be combined with dribbling a ball, kicking a ball and running forwards and backwards.
For both the dynamic stretches and specific drills start slowly and gradually increase intensity and difficulty of stretch and drills with repetition. Moderate stretching is sufficient to increase your flexibility; repetitions are the key. The dynamic stretches below are examples of ones commonly helpful for sports people and those simply looking to improve flexibility, strength and endurance. Please keep in mind your own body issues prior to trying these at home. For example, it would be inadvisable to choose Rolldowns if you have an acute low back pain. If in doubt, contact a Chartered Physiotherapist for further advice. Pilates is an excellent means of improving your dynamic flexibility and control. If you would like further information about Pilates with our Physiotherapists and Pilates with an instructor, please click on the hyperlinks.
Article by John Nugus Chartered Physiotherapist
B. Physiotherapy MHCSP MSc (Pain)
MIASP Certified Pilates Instructor.