What Type of Stretching Involves Continuous and Repetitive Movements?
When most people think of stretching, they assume it means holding a muscle until you feel a slight pull. Did you know there’s more than one way to stretch? When you do this activity, you’re simply straightening or extending a part of your body to its full length. Doing that in continuous repetitive movements with the help of a stretching practitioner can give different advantages than holding it still.
This stretching technique is known as dynamic stretching, and doing them at the right time can work wonders during your physical performance. Keep reading to learn more about dynamic stretches, the benefits you can experience while doing them, and how to perform them safely.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretching is a technique that involves movement during a stretch. This activity typically simulates functional movements to prepare the body for more intense training. They aim to stretch the targeted muscles to their full range of motion. Dynamic stretching isn’t the same as exercising, as these moves are gentler and designed to warm up the body before exercising.
Some of the dynamic stretches you may be familiar with are arm swings, leg swings, spinal rotations, and lunges. These and other similar moves are excellent to incorporate in a warmup before physical activity.
The Difference Between Dynamic and Static Stretching
The type of stretch most people are familiar with is called static stretching, where you hold a muscle in place for a few seconds. This technique is best after your exercise routine since it aims to reduce tension, lengthen your muscles, and improve your flexibility. Your muscles are supposed to be relaxed during a static stretch, so they can be more effective.
A dynamic stretch uses continuous, fluid movement without holding or pausing. Your muscles are active during the stretch, and it’s supposed to help improve your range of motion, reduce muscle stiffness, and warm up the body.
Benefits of Dynamic Stretching
Fitness professionals always make people do dynamic stretches during warmups because of the incredible benefits they offer. These advantages are apparent during and after physical activity and when performed often enough.
If you’re still wondering what the point of dynamic stretches is, here are some of the benefits your body will enjoy as you do them:
Improved Long- and Short-Term Mobility
Dynamic stretching is known to improve range of motion, which is the distance you can move a joint before it becomes uncomfortable. The better it is, the easier it will be for you to move while being active or doing daily activities. Having good mobility in joints such as your hips, knees, and ankles is crucial since it allows you to walk without restriction or resistance.
Increasing your mobility can also be beneficial in several other ways, including:
- Increased muscle strength during activation
- Decreased tightness
- Better posture
- Released tension
- Better understanding of your body
Helps Fascia Remain Supple
There’s a reason people complete dynamic stretches before physical activity or before starting their day. It modifies tension in your fascia, which is the connective tissue that surrounds your blood vessels, organs, and muscles. Keeping this part of your body oxygenated and flexible can prevent aches and also makes it a lot easier to move!
You have a fascia in all the muscles all over your body. When you’re inactive, it becomes thick, sticky, and dry. This can result in your fascia seizing up around the muscles, which can cause uncomfortable knots and make it harder to move. This is known as fascia adhesions.
Warms up Muscles and Nervous System
It’s much easier for warm muscles to move during physical activity without overextending or tearing. Dynamic stretches help them function better so they can move the way they’re supposed to.
These movements can also help wake up your nervous system, which is responsible for all mental activity. For this reason, many health professionals recommend a gentle dynamic stretch session in the morning or when you’re feeling tired in the middle of the day. The increased oxygen and blood flow to the brain can help you function better.
Preparing for High-Intensity Workouts
Dynamic stretches can help prepare your body for demanding workouts by improving performance and enhancing strength and power. The moves you perform during an active stretch will increase blood flow in your muscles and joints, which helps you make a better mind-muscle connection.
Some health professionals believe that static stretching before a workout can negatively affect your muscular strength.
Improves Mental Preparedness
Since increased blood flow creates a better mind-muscle connection, dynamic stretching can also help you mentally prepare for a workout. This is crucial since your brain controls every single physical movement you make. You’ll need to focus on the activity and consciously contract the muscle to get to your target area, especially during weightlifting.
When you stimulate more of the target muscle, you can increase your muscle growth and perform better during physical activity.
Lessens the Risk of an Injury
Did you know that a warmup routine with dynamic stretching and targeted exercises can reduce the risk of an injury by about 35%? This makes that warmup period crucial for those who lift heavy weights or perform high-intensity workouts. These moves will warm up your muscles, joints, and ligaments, allowing them to work without overcompensating.
The previously mentioned benefits of dynamic stretching also help lower your injury risk. With better mental preparedness, you’ll understand how to perform your exercise correctly and effectively. Muscles that are warm also move much better!
May Improve Your Circulatory Health
Stretching can help the muscles, mind, and even the heart! As you already know, stretching improves your blood circulation by increasing how much blood your heart pumps. This may lead to some long-term circulatory health benefits if you continue to stretch often enough. With good blood flow, you can:
- Reduce heart attack risk
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve blood vessel function
- Lower cholesterol
Quick Tips for Preventing Injuries
As with any activity, there can be a slight chance of an injury occurring, especially if you do the exercise incorrectly. Fortunately, you can do a lot to keep your muscles and joints safe while you stretch. Here are some quick tips to prevent an injury from occurring in the middle of a dynamic stretch:
Take Your Time
Stretching should be a relaxing activity, so make sure to take your time and slowly ease your way through each move. Your movements should be slow and controlled, as rushing can impact your form and may also cause you to overstretch your muscles.
You’ll know if you’ve overstretched once it starts to hurt. The goal isn’t to push your body past its limits, so make sure to take your time during a dynamic stretch. Gradually increasing your range of motion and flexibility is the safest way to go.
Don’t Bounce During the Stretch
You’ll want to avoid bouncing and heavy jerking in the middle of a dynamic stretch. This can cause you to hyperextend and possibly lead to an injury. There is a specific stretch where people do moves like this, and it’s called ballistic stretching. This should only be performed by professionals.
Avoid Dynamic Stretching if You Have an Injury
People with injuries should avoid active stretching until getting approval from a doctor or physical therapist. This activity could put stress on the injury and keep it from healing properly. You should also avoid stretching post-surgery.
Your doctor or healthcare provider will likely clear you to start stretching your muscles once the inflammation subsides. Waiting too long can make it harder to restore your mobility, as the scar tissues quickly form and try to reattach the damaged muscle fibers. This isn’t as strong or flexible as your natural muscle fibers.
Avoid Dynamic Stretching if You Have Certain Health Conditions
People with certain health conditions should avoid doing dynamic stretching to prevent further complications. Doing so can put extra strain on the body and joints, causing more discomfort than benefits. If you do want to get moving, it’s safer to do it under the care of a professional stretch practitioner.
A few of the common health conditions that could make dynamic stretching difficult are:
- Involuntary muscle spasms
Maintain Proper Form
Using the right form and technique while doing a dynamic stretch will prevent an injury and ensure that you get all the benefits from the stretch. For example, if a dynamic stretching routine consists of squats or lunges, keeping the knee aligned with the heel will prevent you from putting too much stress on the knee joint. It’s also crucial to keep your spine neutral during the activity to protect your back and shoulders.
Stretching has a certain technique to it too. You’ll want to make sure to target both sides of your body equally and incorporate a full-body regimen to prevent muscle imbalances. That’s one way to cause more discomfort and mess up your form during a stretch!
Stretch More Often When It’s Cold
Winter is a time when most people want to bundle up indoors and limit their physical activity. Doing dynamic stretches when it’s cold is even more crucial for your muscles! The cooler weather can make your muscles and joints feel stiffer, which can lead to more aches and limited mobility.
Most health professionals recommend extending your warmups if you’re going to be working out or playing a sport outside during the winter months. Your muscles already begin to cool down once you stop moving, and the freezing weather will only expedite the process.
Use a Professional Stretching Practitioner
If you’re particularly tight, have an injury, or are trying something for the first time, we highly advise against trying a new stretching regimen on your own. Many people don’t realize that they’re stretching incorrectly and may wonder why their muscle tightness isn’t improving. Having a professional to guide you will ensure that you’re doing the stretch correctly and that you’ll get the most benefits from it.
It’s also your chance to ask questions and seek advice on how to keep your body more limber.
When Are the Best Times to Do Dynamic Stretching?
The best time to do a dynamic stretch is before any physical activity. Since it also wakes up the nervous system, most experts suggest stretching in the morning or when you’re feeling tired in the middle of the day. Below are a few other ideal times you should perform some gentle static stretches:
- First thing in the morning
- Before playing a sport
- Before doing cardio
- Before weightlifting or exercise
How Can Dynamic Practitioner-Assisted Stretching Enhance Stretching Experience?
Having a professional assist you through your dynamic stretches can be very useful, especially if you’re recovering from an injury or want to increase your flexibility. Our team uses the Stretch Zone Method that can help gradually increase your active range of motion, relieving stiffness and enhancing athletic performance. Here’s how:
Our technique and patented strapping system allow us to isolate muscles so we can break up the scar tissue that restrains movement. When one area is tight from this, it can cause other muscle groups to compensate. This usually means smaller muscles are doing the job of other larger ones because they’re too stiff.
These extra stiff muscles are harder to target because they “forget how to work” after being inactive for so long. This means you might stretch the neighboring areas instead of the targeted ones.
The straps on our stretching table make it much easier to target the muscle you want and only focus on that one area. After regularly seeing a stretch practitioner at Stretch Zone, you’ll notice your problem area becoming less stiff and finally working the way it’s intended to.
It’s a slow and steady process that will make you feel lighter and younger!
Are You Looking for a Stretching Practitioner to Help You Move Better?
Stretching can benefit anyone, from office workers to athletes. The team at Stretch Zone is more than happy to help you learn the best dynamic stretches that can greatly improve your mobility. Our knowledge, technique, and tools can ensure you get the most benefits from each stretch.
Are you interested in learning how a professional stretch session can help you? We’d love to assist! Look for a Stretch Zone in your area today and schedule a 30-minute session with one of our stretch practitioners. Your first stretch is free, so make sure to call us and experience these incredible benefits!