Still "circling up" with your team for static stretching before practice and games? Not only are you poorly preparing your body, you're inhibiting your performance.
Studies have shown that static (or passive) stretching limits force production during performance, ultimately lowering power output and explosiveness. Baseball is characterized by short bursts of activity incorporating quick, explosive movements. Every player needs to be able to produce force quickly in order to throw harder, run faster and hit the ball farther. To achieve these goals, baseball players need to be completing a solid dynamic warm-up. (See Dynamic Warm-ups vs. Static Stretching.)
When a baseball player incorporates dynamic movements into his warm-up, he places his body under a different stimulus compared to static stretching. Instead of holding a specific stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, he stretches a muscle for four to six seconds followed by a contraction or shortening of the muscle—a movement pattern that is similar to throwing a ball or swinging a bat. There is a short stretch followed by a quick contraction to generate an explosive movement. Not only is dynamic stretching more appropriate to the tasks at hand, but dynamic movements also increase the potential for more neural activity, which results in greater force production.
Understand it this way. The goal of static stretching is to relax your muscles, while the goal of dynamic stretching is to wake them up. By actively contracting your muscles throughout your warm-up routine, you'll be increasing your body temperature, heart rate, and blood flow to your muscles. Furthermore, your long-term flexibility and mobility will improve as well.
Incorporating Dynamic Movements Into Your Warm-up
Once you grasp the concept of dynamic versus static stretching, it's time to incorporate some new movements into your baseball warm-up. Check out the following video, and try out the movements next time you are preparing your body for training or practice.
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