If you’ve landed on this article, you’re likely already familiar with some of the benefits of dynamic stretching. You may want to learn more about what dynamic stretching involves, why is dynamic stretching important, and how you can implement it in your workouts to get the most out of your exercise
Well, you’re in luck!
OriGym’s guide aims to outline some of the key features and benefits of dynamic stretching, as well as addressing some of the most common misconceptions, and helping you understand any risks of dynamic stretching. We all love to exercise, but it’s important to do so safely, and we’re here to help you understand what’s right for you when it comes to dynamic stretching.
- What is Dynamic Stretching?
- What Is The Difference Between Dynamic and Static Stretching?
- Different Types of Dynamic Stretching
- What Are The Benefits of Dynamic Stretching?
- When Should I Use Dynamic Stretches?
- How Many Reps To Do For Dynamic Stretching?
- What Are The Disadvantages Of Dynamic Stretching?
- What Are The Risks of Dynamic Stretching?
- How Does Dynamic Stretching Improve Flexibility?
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What is Dynamic Stretching?
Before we look at the advantages and disadvantages of dynamic stretching, we’re going to first explain to you what dynamic stretching actually is.
There are a number of different types of stretches that you can do to limber up and get your muscles supple before working out. Some of these include:
- Static stretching
- Ballistic stretching
- Passive stretching
- PNF stretching
- Isometric stretching
- Active stretching
- And finally - dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretching is a movement-based method of stretching. Whereas static stretching consists of performing a stretch and holding that position (like stretching the hamstrings, or a yoga pose), dynamic stretching involves moving the muscles in a similar way to the exercise you’ll be performing. We’ll touch more on these differences in our next section.
Essentially, what this means is that dynamic stretches are an active form of stretching, where your muscles and joints go through a full range of motion to help warm the body up before exercising. Dynamic stretches can be movements that mimic the movement of the activity or sport that you’re about to perform. For example, a footballer might swing his legs whilst warming up, or a runner may practice fast movements of their legs and arms.
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These kinds of stretches can also be a series of movements to get the body moving before any type of exercise. Some examples of these movements include walking lunges, high kicks, and jump squats.
So if you’re going to be taking part in sports or just exercising in general in the near future, dynamic stretching could be the perfect way for you to ensure that you’re ready to perform at your peak!
What’s the Difference Between Dynamic and Static Stretching?
How different can stretches be from each other? Well, you’d be surprised!
Dynamic stretches, as we already know, are meant to get the body moving. You wouldn’t hold these stretches as you might with others, and they often consist of a variety of different movements, such as leg swings, twists and lunges.
Static stretching, however, is where muscles are stretched, opened, and held for long periods of time. It involves stretching a muscle to its furthest point and holding that position for at least 20 seconds.
Static stretching focuses on a single muscle group with each stretch that is done.
Whilst dynamic stretching is usually done before a workout, static stretching is usually done at the end. It allows for your muscles to loosen up, whilst also increasing flexibility and range of motion, as well as helping reduce feelings of stiffness and soreness.
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Different Types of Dynamic Stretching
As with the vast majority of exercises and warm ups, there are so many variations, and it’s important to be aware of what’s right for you and what exercise you’ll be completing. For instance, one type of dynamic stretching may not be suitable for a type of exercise that another type of dynamic stretching would be ideal for.
So, we’ve broken down some of the most common types of dynamic stretching, and what they’re an ideal warm up for!
Leg Pendulums/Leg Swings - a dynamic movement of the legs, this type of dynamic stretching is ideal for runners or sprinters
Leg Kicks/Walking Lunges - consistent, repeated movement of the legs. This type of dynamic stretching is mostly commonly used by footballers as this mimics taking a shot, passing the ball, or making a tackle.
Arm Swings/Arm Circles - twists or circles with the arms. This type of dynamic stretching is universal, in that a great many exercises use the arms to some degree, but a swimmer may find it beneficial to place emphasis on these dynamic movements.
Hip Rotations/Spinal Rotations - rotating the upper body. Another type of dynamic stretching that can be applied to a range of different exercises, but we would recommend doing this before an exercise that requires upper body flexibility such as rugby or football.
What are the Benefits of Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretching opens up your muscles, and prepares them for a difficult or sustained workout. By completing a full range of motion with your joints and muscles, your body can achieve more, and is better prepared for activities that involve a lot of movement, such as football or running.
Let’s have a look at some of the biggest benefits of dynamic stretching!
#1 - Warms Up the Muscles
Perhaps the most lauded benefit of dynamic stretching is that it helps warm your muscles up to their “working temperature”. This not only thoroughly stretches them out, but also helps improve their overall function as they’re at the optimal warmth for exercise.
You may think that static stretching lengthens your muscles and therefore makes them work better, but in the long run your performance can actually suffer. While it will stretch your muscles, the lack of movement in static stretching will leave you feeling cold and ill-prepared to jump straight into a tough workout.
Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, gets your muscles warmed up so that you can ease into the workout with a far reduced risk of picking up any workout-induced injury.
Static stretching is only really appropriate and effective after a workout, whilst dynamic stretching is your best bet pre-workout to ensure your muscles are warmed up and ready.
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#2 - Gets Your Blood Pumping
Another of the dynamic stretching benefits is that it helps get your blood pumping.
It’s not just your muscles that you need to prepare before a workout, it’s your cardiovascular system too. It’s a lot harder on your heart to ramp up the number of beats per minute over a shorter period of time than a longer one.
This is especially true if you work a desk job, for example, or you’re relatively sedentary except for your running workouts.
Stretching will help get your heart pumping so that when it is time to start working out, you’ll feel ready to go. Our guide to the Best Heart Rate Monitors will help you make the right decision, and really measure how much of an impact these dynamic stretches are having!
Not only this but getting your blood pumping will also help you feel more energised too. Increased circulation will deliver oxygen and other nutrients to your body quicker, helping you feel more energised. Your body will also tire more slowly too, meaning you’ll be able to go on for longer!
#3 - Reduces Chances of Injury
Jumping straight into a workout without stretching or warming up first is always a bad idea, unless you want to pull a muscle or twist a joint.
One of the more important physiological benefits of dynamic stretching in a warm up is that it can help prevent you from injuring yourself whilst you exercise.
Thanks to the other dynamic stretching benefits we’ve already mentioned, mainly boosting your circulation and warming your muscles up, dynamic stretching significantly reduces your chances of hurting yourself during your run or workout.
Static stretching, however, should be used as part of your cool-down routine after a workout. This will, again, help prevent you from picking up any injuries, as well as give you an opportunity to stretch sore and aching muscles.
It’s important to note that dynamic stretching isn’t a replacement for extra support such as tape or athletic braces, so if your joints do need a bit of extra help, then by all means give it to them. And if kit is your passion, browse our article on The Best Running Gear and find the right choice for you!
To lessen the risk of picking up an injury whilst working out or on a run, then we’d definitely recommend you doing a bit of dynamic stretching before you exercise!
#4 - Mentally Prepares You For Your Workout
One of the psychological advantages of dynamic stretching is that it will help you prepare yourself mentally for the workout ahead!
Preparing for a workout, exercise, or a race is both a physical and mental process. You can get your body ready, but if your head isn’t in the game and your mindset is off, you’ll likely put in a far poorer workout, regardless of how good you feel physically.
And if you’re having a tough day today, our list of the Best Natural Mood Boosters will help you take a moment to relax and recuperate.
Whilst dynamic stretching doesn’t directly stretch your brain, it gives you a transition time to mentally shake off any issues you have and get yourself focused on the workout or race ahead.
Dynamic stretching before a workout can also give you an opportunity to reconnect with your body and get a feel of how much you can push yourself. It can also give you some time to think about your workout goals for the day too.
Whilst it doesn’t have a direct effect on your mentality and brain, dynamic stretching gives you time to sort your thoughts out and focus on getting into the right mindset to smash whatever goals you aim to achieve in the workout!
#5 - Shortens Recovery Time
Not only does dynamic stretching help reduce your risk of getting injured whilst you exercise, but it also helps speed up your recovery time, as well as helping with general post-workout soreness.
After you work out, your muscles are still warm, meaning they’re more limber and can move with more ease than they normally would. Stretching them out after a workout helps reduce stiffness and soreness from kicking in later on.
As has already been established, dynamic stretching also helps get your blood pumping, boosting your circulation. This can have a direct effect on your recovery time.
The increased circulation caused by dynamic stretching, as well as the increased nutrients and oxygen that come with it, can also help sore muscles repair themselves whilst you work out!
Shortening your recovery time means that you won’t have to take as many days off to recover as you normally would, meaning you can get straight back to training as soon as possible and get ahead of the game!
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#6 - Improves Mobility
Dynamic stretching is a great way of increasing your mobility both in the short term (as a warm-up for your workout), and in the long term too. This form of stretching increases your mobility with every repetition and movement.
Having an improved range of movement and mobility can have a range of positive benefits. It can make your muscles stronger, meaning you can carry on for longer, and it can also help reduce your likelihood of picking up exercise-induced injuries, like strains or pulls.
A study from 2012 shows that dynamic and static stretching could improve your range of motion, whereas static warmups may have a negative impact on your muscles strength, though the findings on this point were mixed.
Furthermore, a more recent study confirmed that dynamic stretching helps increase muscle strength as well as improve your range of motion, though it did find that the effects may be minimal.
Improved mobility will mean more than just being able to touch your toes. It’ll make you stronger and less likely to get hurt too! And you can use that strength at home too - we’ve put together a selection of the Best Fitness DVDs so you can train in and out of the gym!
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#7 - Helps You Prepare for High-Intensity Workouts
Not only will dynamic stretching get your muscles warmed up and loose, but it’ll also help you prepare for a high-intensity workout.
Dynamic stretching before a workout helps you prepare for what’s coming, both physically and mentally. As previously mentioned, one of the biggest dynamic stretching benefits is that it gives you time to clear your mind and focus on the workout ahead.
Physically, dynamic stretching will help loosen your muscles, increase your range of motion, and ready you for exercise, so that when you finally dive in, your body will be ready for it.
In fact, a case study by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that warming up with dynamic stretching had significant effects that resulted in “sustained power, strength, muscular endurance, anaerobic capacity, and agility performance enhancements”.
It’ll help decrease any muscle stiffness too, ensuring you don’t struggle with feeling uncomfortable, stiff, or sore during your HIIT.
Dynamic stretching is recommended to be done before high-intensity workouts as it helps prepare the joints for what is to come, ensuring that they don’t get injured as you exercise.
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Whilst static stretching does, in fact, help loosen the muscles, it won’t be as beneficial for you before high-intensity training than dynamic stretching will be. Static stretching is best saved for after the workout is finished.
#8 - Can Help with Arthritis
One of the many advantages of dynamic stretching is that it can actually be beneficial for people who suffer from arthritis!
From swollen, aching joints to stiffness and all-over inflammation, dealing with arthritis can be annoying at best and utterly debilitating at worst. You may think that arthritis only affects older people, but it can also affect younger people too, with 2/3 of those who suffer from it in America being under 65 years old.
Whilst it can be tempting to stay sedentary when you suffer from a flare-up in your arthritis, it’s been found that dynamic stretching can go a long way towards helping you feel better, faster.
These dynamic stretches benefit you in multiple ways, such as helping to keep your joints lubricated and increase your range of motion, which can ease a lot of the pain and stiffness associated with the condition.
There are a range of movements you can do to help ease your stiffness, such as ‘ankle circles’, ‘arm circles’, and ‘leg swings’ to name but a few.
Whilst dynamic stretching won’t cure arthritis, it can go a long way towards easing your discomfort and stiffness!
#9 - Improves Athletic Performance
One of the main benefits of dynamic stretching is that it can help improve your overall physical performance!
A systematic review of 31 studies in the British Journal of Sports Medicine from 2014 found that active warm-ups, such as dynamic stretching, can enhance strength and power performance. Meanwhile, it was also found that shorter, static stretches not only failed to provide the same boost but may also reduce strength too.
Even if you’re not playing sports every week or taking part in runs, doing a bit of dynamic stretching as part of your active warmup can help optimise your performance and fast track your results.
It doesn’t matter if you’re pumping iron in the gym, out sprinting, or working out in your bedroom, priming your body for action with dynamic stretching will elevate your performance, thus accelerating your gains.
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After all, you’re going to be performing better when your muscles are warm, your heart is pumping, you’re in the right head-space, and your muscles and joints aren’t stiff and sore from your last workout!
When Should I Use Dynamic Stretching?
Now that we’ve learnt about all of the incredible benefits of dynamic stretching, it’s important to establish where and how we should use it.
As we’ve previously mentioned, dynamic stretches benefit us most when used before participating in any sort of sport, exercise, or physical activity.
Don’t think that just because you’re not an athlete that you shouldn’t do any dynamic stretching though. Dynamic stretches should be done before any kind of sporting or athletic event, whether they’re competitive or not. The goal of dynamic stretching is to ensure that your muscles and ligaments are ready to be used during physical activity. Failure to stretch properly could lead to injuries or soreness later on.
You should incorporate dynamic stretching into your warm-up routine before exercise. A complete athletic warm-up, for example, should include between 5-10 minutes of low to moderate-intensity jogging, swimming, or cycling, followed by a period of dynamic stretching.
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If you’re all about the heavy lifting and building muscle, dynamic stretching is great for that, too! Dynamic stretching before weightlifting, according to research such as this piece from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, may be able to help with leg extension power, and improve your performance compared to static stretching or not stretching at all.
Dynamic stretching can have a positive effect on you before cardiovascular exercise too. Not only can it help reduce your risk of injury from swimming or running, but it may also be able to improve your performance.
So, the next time you’re going to play a game of football, or you’re going for a run or a swim, remember it would be a good idea to do some dynamic stretching as part of your workout. It’ll help you feel more energised, stretched out, and ready to power through your workout. What more could you ask for?
How Many Reps To Do For Dynamic Stretching?
How many reps to do for your dynamic stretching is entirely dependent on what exercise you’re doing. For instance, football players might do 10 - 12 leg swings as these are the muscles and as such movements that they’ll be repeating across the course of the game.
The exercise is extended over a long period of time, and so they would generally do sets of 10 - 12 reps of movements that imitate what they’ll be doing over the course of the game, so leg swings, arm circles, or lunge twists.
Shorter exercises (a short dash on the treadmill, for instance) would likely require less reps of your dynamic stretches as this is not as sustained as other forms of exercise.
What Are The Disadvantages of Dynamic Stretching?
So, now that we completely understand what a dynamic stretch is, let’s think about what makes them an integral part of many exercises, and where they might not be as beneficial.
Of course, there are both pros and cons of dynamic stretching, but from our research, we’ve found that the positives far outweigh the negatives when it comes to dynamic
However, even with something as beneficial as dynamic stretching, it’s just as important to be aware of where it might not be a good idea to include this.
In terms of the disadvantages of dynamic stretching, they can be unsuitable for certain exercises or activities, such as yoga, which focuses more on flexibility rather than fast and consistent movements. Workouts such as pilates and tai chi, too, wouldn’t be a good place to use dynamic stretching as these focus more on the fluid and gentle movements of the exercises, rather than the fast movements that dynamic stretching prepares the body for.
Dynamic stretching may also aggravate previous injuries, especially muscular problems or issues with joints, as it can put additional pressure on these areas.
And, as with any form of exercise, big or small, dynamic stretches can be detrimental if not performed correctly. It’s important to learn the correct postures and forms for any stretches that you perform, and adhere to those postures so as to stretch out exactly what needs stretching, and achieve the results you want to achieve.
It’s also crucial to be aware of how your body feels, especially when performing an exercise like this. If, at any point, a dynamic stretch feels uncomfortable or painful, it’s a good idea to stop and only resume those stretches once you have spoken to a doctor.
Risks of Dynamic Stretching
Whilst dynamic stretching does have an excellent range of benefits, it does carry some inherent risks too.
There’s no need to panic though, as the risks of dynamic stretching are minimal!
Like all forms of exercise, dynamic stretching can only be dangerous if done incorrectly. One risk of dynamic stretching is that it is very easy to over-do it. It’s also easy to push your stretches too hard or too fast which can result in injury.
If you’ve never done dynamic stretching before it is advised that you make sure that you start off very slowly and gently. Be sure to give yourself at least 2 or 3 sessions of easy dynamic stretching before you try and move onto something more energetic or that will require more flexibility.
It’s recommended that, if you’ve got an injury, you don’t do any dynamic stretches unless you’ve been advised by your doctor that it's safe to do so. Those over the age of 65 would perhaps benefit more from static stretches, as would those whose exercise requires flexibility, such as ballet, pilates, or yoga.
In fact, a study by the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that static stretching was in fact more effective at preparing the body for exercises that require flexibility.
Plus, our selection of the Best Yoga Podcasts all offer tips, tricks and news on all things flexibility!
Whilst dynamic stretching is relatively risk-free, it’s important to start off slow, keep an eye on how much you do, and always ensure that you’re 100% ready before moving onto something harder.
How Does Dynamic Stretching Improve Flexibility?
One of the crucial questions when it comes to dynamic stretching is does dynamic stretching increase flexibility?
And the answer is yes!
By mimicking the actions of the exercise you’ll be performing, your muscles receive more blood flow and so are more prepared. Continuously performing dynamic stretches gives your muscles consistently increased mobility, and over time, improves flexibility.
These repetitive movements “warm up” the muscles, and act as an initial warning system for your body, so that it’s prepared for what it’s about to do. The muscle fibres loosen and become longer, increasing the amount of motion you can achieve with those muscles.
A study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research concluded that dynamic stretching as part of a warm up resulted in increased flexibility, and an ability to perform better than those who had not used dynamic stretching as part of a warm up.
Before You Go!
We hope you’ve found our guide to the benefits of dynamic stretching useful, and that you now have a much better understanding of what you need to do to boost your workouts, and take your fitness to the next level.
Stretching is often not considered when planning out a workout or intense gym session, but we hope our article has gone some way towards helping you realise the importance of stretching properly before each time you go to the gym.
Even if you consider yourself to be a fitness expert, our guide to the benefits of dynamic stretching can really come in handy.
But why not put that expertise to good use, and start your career as a personal trainer today? Our formally accredited personal training courses give you absolutely everything you might need to become a fully fledged personal trainer.
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- Behm, D.G., Chaouachi, A. A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 111, 2633–2651 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-011-1879-2
- Herman, Sonja L1,2; Smith, Derek T2,3 Four-Week Dynamic Stretching Warm-up Intervention Elicits Longer-Term Performance Benefits, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: July 2008 - Volume 22 - Issue 4 - p 1286-1297 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e318173da50
- Manoel, Mateus E; Harris-Love, Michael O; Danoff, Jerome V; Miller, Todd A. Acute Effects of Static, Dynamic, and Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching on Muscle Power in Women, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: September 2008 - Volume 22 - Issue 5 - p 1528-1534 doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31817b0433
- Opplert, J., Babault, N. Acute Effects of Dynamic Stretching on Muscle Flexibility and Performance: An Analysis of the Current Literature. Sports Med 48, 299–325 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0797-9
- O'Sullivan K, McAulliffe S, DeBurca N, THE EFFECTS OF ECCENTRIC TRAINING ON LOWER LIMB FLEXIBILITY: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW British Journal of Sports Medicine 2014;48:648.
- Samson M, Button DC, Chaouachi A, Behm DG. Effects of dynamic and static stretching within general and activity specific warm-up protocols. J Sports Sci Med. 2012;11(2):279-285. Published 2012 Jun 1.