Dynamic Stretching: 3 Drills for Better Movement

I'd wager that most people are aware of the difference between DYNAMIC and PASSIVE stretching. They're two terms that have become pretty common for those involved in the health & fitness industry as well as your average Joe. It's likely that the vast majority of our generation has been exposed to some sort of static stretching routine, either in gym class, sports teams, or any numbers of experiences throughout your childhood.

I used to be a hater. I would bash on static stretching:

The literature shows an acute decrease in power and speed following typical static stretching protocols. The research backs it up! Dynamic stretching is the only method to use!

I was wrong. The truth is, I simply didn't enjoy it. I thought it was boring and I couldn't rationalize spending my time that laying on the ground pulling my leg. There does exist research that demonstrates acute decreases in power and speed following static stretching [1][2]. This means that using this method immediately before competition is likely ineffective and, at worst, detrimental to performance.

What this research doesn't say is "Static stretching is useless." There are studies that show prolonged static stretching is a beneficial intervention! In the short-term, it's been found to increase the individuals tolerance to stretch [3][4]. Used as part of a long-term protocol, static stretching increases muscle length via sarcomerogenesis [4]Both are methods of which we can use static stretching to increase joint range-of-motion (ROM) and therefore improve function.

Weppler CH, Magnusson SP. Increasing muscle extensibility: a matter of increasing length or modifying sensation?. Phys Ther. 2010;90(3):438-49.

Weppler CH, Magnusson SP. Increasing muscle extensibility: a matter of increasing length or modifying sensation?. Phys Ther. 2010;90(3):438-49.


Dynamic stretching also has it's place! This method involves active transitions into and out of joint range, working to increase local blood flow, introduce loading to the surrounding joint structures, and begin stimulating joint proprioceptors [3]. Organs inside the joint capsule that sense and communicate joint position.

This is my preferred way to prepare for physical activity: Practices, competition, or strength & conditioning sessions. We can take this a step further and select movement drills that are specific to that day's physical event. Selected exercises should place the joints in the positions that you'll need to use in the subsequent training sessions.

  • Squat Day? Open up the hips, mobilize the ankles and thoracic spine, and select 1-2 movements that mimic the movement pattern.

  • Going out for a run? Select movements that will encourage hip separation --> 1 Leg in extension, the other in flexion.

  • Prepping for jiu jitsu practice? Chances are you'll need to post on an arm or bridge someone up over you. Your warm-up should focus on dynamic control of the shoulder and achieving full hip extension.

Let's dive into a few examples to help get you started!


Cook Squat w/ Hamstring Stretch

  • BENEFITS

    1. Active stretch of the entire posterior chain paired followed by active global spinal extension.

    2. Hip opener and position preparation for the bottom of a squat.

    3. Active balance work throughout the movement.

Thoracic Bridge

  • BENEFITS

    • Improved glenohumeral (shoulder) extension, internal rotation, and external rotation.

    • Stability and control of the shoulder girdle.

    • Global spinal rotation and control

    • Improved hip extension and stability

General Movement Preparation Drills

  • BENEFITS

    • Great tools to warm up the hips and prepare the lower body for dynamic movement.

    • Improved single-leg balance and control of hip separation.

    • Excellent general mobility tools and excellent movements to improve blood flow and physically warm the individual up.

    • These are great options to choose before running and practice for field sport athletes!




REFERENCES
[1] Yamaguchi T, Ishii K, Yamanaka M, Yasuda K. Acute effect of static stretching on power output during concentric dynamic constant external resistance leg extension. J Strength Cond Res. 2006;20(4):804-10.

[2] Simic L, Sarabon N, Markovic G. Does pre-exercise static stretching inhibit maximal muscular performance? A meta-analytical review. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013;23(2):131-48.

[3] Page P. CURRENT CONCEPTS IN MUSCLE STRETCHING FOR EXERCISE AND REHABILITATION. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2012;7(1):109-119.

[4] Weppler CH, Magnusson SP. Increasing muscle extensibility: a matter of increasing length or modifying sensation?. Phys Ther. 2010;90(3):438-49.