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If you struggle with muscular pain during your workout, it might be time to switch up your warm-up routine. Here, we’ll talk about dynamic stretching and how it can help you with your workout.
Dynamic stretching is the use of movement to warm up specific muscles, getting them pumped and ready for exercise. It’s different from normal static stretching as it takes movements like squats and lunges and transforms them into stretches.1
Over recent years, dynamic stretching may have overtaken static stretching as it can prepare specific muscles ahead of a workout. It’s performed at a slower pace as preparation for exercise, which means you are looking to stimulate muscles or muscle groups to get them prepared for more intense exercise.
For example, in preparation for a run you may wish to prepare the knees so you may carry out some high knee or squat exercises in preparation.
We’ll go over some stretches, and more specifically the benefits within this article.
Static stretching is the movement you would generally attribute to a workout. It can be done at the beginning of a workout as a warmup, although static stretching would be more commonly be done at the end of a workout to warm down the muscles you have used with prolonged stretches.
It works by placing a certain muscle where it can be extended and holding it there for a certain amount of time.2
Both dynamic and static stretching have their place as part of your fitness routine. Typically, dynamic stretching would be something you do at the beginning of your workout as it involves actively working your muscles ahead of exercise.
Often these movements will often stretch the same muscles you will be training in your workout. For example, a swimmer may look to warm up the arms and the runner their legs etc.
Whereas static stretching would usually be carried out at the end of your workout. This involves stretches that you hold in place for long periods of time, with very little movement. This allows your muscles to loosen, while increasing flexibility and range of motion.
It’s worth reiterating dynamic stretching should be used as part of a warmup for competitive or non-competitive exercise. Ideally you would do between 5-10 minutes low to moderate intensity dynamic stretching ahead of swimming, jogging, cycling, or any intensive exercise.3
Dynamic stretching warms up the muscles to their working temperature, which thoroughly stretches them out and improves their overall function. You may think that static stretching lengthens the muscle and therefore makes it work better, but over time its performance can be lowered by this.
Dynamic stretching is a great way to prepare for high-intensity workouts. It helps get your body ready for what’s coming, whereas static stretching will not help as much as it only loosens the muscles.
Ready to get in the mood? Dynamic stretching is almost like a mini workout, so it gets your blood pumping and you’ll feel more mentally ready for the workout ahead. Static stretching, on the other hand, has the potential to make you feel rather sleepy – not something you want to be feeling prior to exercise.
Dynamic stretching will also improve your mobility in both the short term (prior to your workout) and eventually the long term, as you increase your muscles’ performance and reduce the probability of injury. As you perform dynamic stretches more and more, you’ll notice a sustained positive effect on your overall performance during exercise.4
There are many dynamic stretches that will help get your whole body warmed up ahead of exercise. Here we have picked out ten dynamic stretching examples to help you on your way.
Top tip: As you become more flexible you can widen your circle to further work your muscles.
Top tip: This is a great warmup exercise ahead of running or cycling.
Top tip: This is a useful exercise for runners who are preparing for a long run, or who haven’t ran for a while.
Top tip: this is a fairly common exercise, but it’s really useful to loosen the shoulders ahead of doing weights, going swimming or even running.
Top tip: This is a great stretch ahead of swimming, you should feel your shoulders loosen with the movement.
Top tip: This exercise is ideal ahead of boxing or swimming.
Top tip: This will help your arms and your torso loosen, as you feel the muscles improve you may want to increase the number of reps you do.
Top tip: this is a great way to improve and loosen the movement in your lower back ahead of any exercise.
Top tip: This is a great exercise if you feel tightness in the lower back/buttock area.
It isn’t necessary to perform dynamic stretches as a cooldown as it's more associated with a warmup.
Dynamic stretches bring up your core temperature. During a cooldown, the goal is to lower your temperature so you may be more inclined to carry out static stretches.
If you are looking to improve your physical performance, it may be worth adding some dynamic stretches to your routine before exercise or sports.
This will prepare your body, provide energy and help you power through your workout.
Its important not to do this carrying an injury, and its always worth remembering that getting fit starts with eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Take the first step towards a fitter, happier you and check out our selection of exercise support supplements.
Read more: Why is flexibility important?
Last updated: 28 April 2021
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.