Remember gym class when your teacher told you to run a couple of laps and then stretch? That's when I first learned how to stretch, and I thought it was great. Hold each stretch for 10 seconds and you're ready to go. Dynamic stretching exercises were nowhere in the public consciousness for a long time, because we were conditioned to believe that static stretching was good before exercise.
Well, research studies now show that static stretching before exercise is not as beneficial as dynamic stretching. Some even conclude that static stretching before a workout or intense exercise can hurt your performance.
What does a dynamic warm-up actually accomplish. (Read the keys to a dynamic warm-up.) First, unlike your old gym class warm-up, dynamic stretching takes each muscle group in the body through a full range of motion, warming them up and stretching them at the same time. Second, dynamic stretching before exercise or competition increase your performance in the gym and in games by better preparing your muscles for intense activity.
The following is a sample dynamic stretching warm-up sequence. Go through each movement for 30 seconds or until that part of your body feels adequately warmed up. Watch the video that follows to see how each movement is performed.
- Cat Camel
- Fire Hydrants
- High Low
- Swimmer Strokes
- Leg Swings (forward and back)
- Leg Swings (side-to-side)
- Alternating Calf Stretch
Follow this routine before every workout, practice and game, and you'll find yourself becoming increasingly flexible and performing at a higher level.
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