Stretching – Part One
As a physiotherapist, I see many patients who injure themselves because they didn’t do an adequate warm up. I also see many patients who are still doing “old school” static stretches before they do a sport. It has been a few years now, that as a physiotherapist, I have been telling patients to stop doing static stretches before sports or activity and to change to a dynamic warm-up.
Why do a dynamic warm-up?
- Elevate Heart Rate – increasing the heart rate is vital for any warm-up. This will facilitate an increase in body temperature, blood flow and cardiac output thus preparing oneself for intense training
- Increase Core Temperature – this will aid in the flexibility of the muscles, joint capsules and connective tissues and prepare them for more intense activity.
- Enhance Blood Flow to Muscle Tissues – this ensures that oxygen rich blood is being delivered to your muscles at the onset of training.
- Stimulates the Nervous System
- Increases Mobility
- Decreased Risk of Injury – all of the above dynamic warm up benefits can lead to a greater level of injury resilience during higher intensity training.
Best Dynamic Warm-up Exercises
- Knee hugs/pulls
- Leg swings – front and back
- Leg swings – side to side
- Mountain Climbers
- High Knees
- Bear Crawls
- Jumping Jacks
- Walking lunges
- Side lunges
- Spine Twists
- Arm circles
Do each of the above exercises for 30 seconds for an effective full body dynamic warm-up.
Take home message: static stretching, although good for flexibility, can be detrimental before physical performance. Static stretching induces a “neuromuscular inhibitory response” that can actually weaken the muscle for up to 30 minutes. For performance enhancement, it is best to do a dynamic warm-up. A dynamic warm-up is the warm up of choice now with regards to optimizing athletic performance.
Stay tuned next week for a blog on cool down stretching after an activity or sport.
Suzie Foreman is a physiotherapist who specializes in orthopaedics and sports. She currently practices at Rebalance Sports Medicine in Toronto.