Why Serious Athletes Warm Up With Dynamic Stretching

For the past 10 years, Professional and Division I Sports teams have all transitioned to pre-workout regiments that primarily consist of Dynamic Stretching. Dynamic Stretches are moving stretches that simultaneously lengthen the muscles while activating them. Dynamic Stretching has been proven to increase explosiveness, reduce the likelihood of injury, and boost overall athletic performance. Not just for athletes, but for everyone who exercises.

At AET Fitness, we’ve trained hundreds of athletes and non-athletes over the past 10 years using dynamic stretching, with remarkable results. There are as lot of articles and videos about dynamic stretching online, but most of them do not provide correct or complete instruction. This can lead to major problems when trying to incorporate something you saw online into a warm up regiment. Dynamic stretching isn’t something you do lazily like touching your toes; dynamic stretching is intense and challenging, in some cases nearly as taxing as a workout itself.

There is a lot of misinformation on the topic, and we wanted to clear things up. We launched Dynamicstretchingzone.com as a resource for people to get proper guidance on dynamic stretching from experienced professionals.

The Little Known Dangers of Static Stretching

Dynamic StretchingMost people’s idea of stretching is technically known as “static stretching”, where you hold a stretch in a fixed position for 10 seconds or more. This is the kind of stretching we’ve all been taught to do in gym class.

Hundreds of studies have proven that static stretching before a workout actually weakens muscles, decreases performance, and can actually increase the likelihood of injury. It’s also been shown that static stretching puts the Central Nervous System to sleep. That’s why static Yoga moves are so effective for relaxation, but why static stretches are such a poor way to start a workout. At best, static stretching has no effect at all. At worst, it can actually be dangerous to do before a workout.

Most experts agree: the optimal alternative is dynamic stretching. Yet most personal trainers and coaches, and hence most members of the public, don’t know much about this form of stretching.

What Does Dynamic Stretching Look Like?

Most people have never seen dynamic stretching in action. Athletes move their bodies around as they stretch. Sometimes this includes walking, skipping, or hopping. At first it can look a little weird. It definitely doesn’t look like conventional stretching, and sometimes it looks as if the athlete is dancing or goofing around. But it is universally accepted and utilized in pro sports. That’s why you see Major League Baseball and NBA players warming up this way.

Check out the video to the left to see players from the Philadelphia Phillies demonstrating some dynamic stretching moves.

Word has started to spread about the problems with traditional stretching and the benefits of dynamic stretching. As interest has grown in dynamic stretching, lots of information both good and bad, has reached the internet.

The Problem With Youtube Dynamic Stretching Videos

There are a ton of Youtube videos on dynamic stretching,  provide varying degrees of quality. While some do have good information and guidance on dynamic stretching, the majority do not. Some of the biggest problems we’ve seen with these videos are:

  • Advocating “butt kickers”, a movement that can actually damage knee ligaments. Ken Griffey Jr. is a famous example of an athlete who over extended his legs when running, and it led to the many leg injuries he experienced towards the end of his career. Many dynamic stretching videos online promote this movement as a positive when in fact it is the exact opposite. Avoid “butt kickers” at all costs.
  • Demonstrating static stretches after dynamic stretches. Many Youtubers do not realize that dynamic stretching wakes up the nervous system, while static stretches put it to sleep. Doing static stretches after dynamic stretches is like eating a bowl of ice cream after a healthy meal; it cancels out the benefits completely. Make sure when you do dynamic stretching that you move right into your work out without any static stretches.
  • A lack of upper body and lying down dynamic stretches. Most videos on dynamic stretching are incomplete and do not include some of the most important stretches in a complete warm up routine. Lying down stretches like the Scorpion, 90 90 stretch, and Horse Kicks plus arm stretches are essential for the best performance. Make sure your dynamic stretching routine addresses the entire body.
  • Wrong form, wrong speed, wrong moves. Form, pace, and movement are essential to a proper dynamic warm up. Most videos we’ve watched demonstrate dynamic stretching done much too quickly and with little regard for breathing. In addition, some of the moves that pass for “dynamic stretches” are not. For instance, “jumping jacks” are not dynamic stretches, yet we’ve seen a number of videos online saying they are. When you do your dynamic stretching, make sure all the moves are done slowly and deliberately with proper attention to breathing and form.
  • Wrong Progression. The biggest problem with almost all videos is the order of stretches in the routine. It’s not good to just pepper in a couple of dynamic stretches in the midst of a static stretching warm up. Doing so can lead to injury. Many of the moves we’ve seen demonstrated should not be attempted until the middle of a routine. For instance, you should never start a dynamic stretching routine with lunges. Lunges are intense moves that activate multiple muscle groups in the groin and upper thigh. “Lunging” into a lunge straight off can lead to a muscle pull faster than warming up with static stretch. Make sure to start out your dynamic stretching routine with easy, gentle moves like walking on your heels or side to side hip rotators.

Learn Dynamic Stretching the Right Way

The aforementioned tips will help you make the most of any free videos you might find online. But to get the best possible results and optimize your performance, your best bet is to learn a full dynamic warm up routine in detail from experienced professionals. To get this, check out our Complete Dynamic Warm Up, the web’s #1 complete dynamic stretching course.

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