Stretch it Out with Dynamic Stretching
Dynamic stretching continues to be a very beneficial, but sometimes underutilized tool prior to athletic activity. It consists of active stretching using controlled, rhythmic movements. Dynamic stretching not only increases flexibility but also aids in coordination and balance, allowing your student-athlete to focus on precision, rhythm and stability. Athletes can stretch through a full range of motion, while improving awareness of their body’s capabilities.
This improved awareness decreases the risk of injury during competition. Dynamic stretching prepares the full body for competition by increasing the blood flow, elevating the heart rate and elevating the respiratory rate. Research shows that athletes following a dynamic stretching protocol versus static stretching perform significantly better regarding balance, agility and movement.
A few common dynamic stretches to add to a pregame routine are toe walks, heel walks, straight-leg marches, ankle hugs, hip rotations in and out, side lunges, forward lunges, back lunges, high knees and butt kicks.
A few common dynamic warm-ups for the arms are arm circles, resistance bands or tubing that replicate components of the upcoming activity, bear crawls or inchworm variations.
It’s important that your student-athlete is focusing on good form with proper core and glute stability when doing these movements to get the full benefit. A few key components include:
- Keeping the core tight by not allowing the trunk to tilt side to side
- Proper quads and hamstrings co-contraction by keeping the knee behind the toes
- Glute stability by having the knee out over the little toe with all lunging warm-ups
Static stretching does have benefits to gain flexibility, but it is recommended to be done post-activity and after competitions. It is always important to remember that each student-athlete has individual needs of which there may need to be unique attributes to the dynamic stretching routine.
Learn more about Sports Medicine at Children's Mercy.