With the warmer weather approaching, people begin to be more active once again and participate in more exercise. This is great! It is important to remember that muscles need to be warmed up and stretched before starting an exercise session. A warm-up/stretch combination helps prevent injury and increases exercise performance. However, stretching should only be performed when the muscles are “warm”, meaning there is an increased blood flow to the muscles that are going to be used.
Dynamic stretching involves the use of momentum when performed, while static stretching is just that, static, and does not involve momentum. Static stretching also requires a separate warm-up before execution, and thus should not be performed pre-exercise on “cold” muscles. Depending on your fitness level and comfort dynamic stretching can add a variety to your workout!
Benefits of performing the correct dynamic stretches pre-exercise include,
- Increased range of motion
- The body is in constant motion
- Motor control between the mind and muscles is engaged
- Improved performance of repetitive movements
This is because during a dynamic stretch specific muscle dynamic-receptors are activated (speed and magnitude) and these would be the same receptors that will be activated during the exercise. For example: Someone performing a 10km walk with Urban poles will benefit from a muscle with a stretched dynamic receptor as they are repeating the same movement (walking) for 10km.
Additional tips regarding stretching:
- It is important to stretch correctly and not to over stretch, listen to your body!
- If you stretch too far you will reduce performance and may be susceptible to injury.
- If a muscle is tight before exercise, a dynamic stretch can help loosen it and bring it to regular performance.
- Only stretch the muscles you are about to use in your workout, which have been warmed up.
The benefits of dynamic stretching complement those of performing a warm-up. When done together, and correctly, results are optimal blood flow, elasticity and performance for the muscles that you are about to use in your exercise.
Two examples of dynamic stretches that can be done with Urban Poles (poles are used for balance) are:
MINI BACK LUNGE Stretches: With your arms straight, step back with one foot and slightly bend both knees.
WAIST TWISTS Stretches: Swing your poles side to side, lifting the back heel each time.
Incorporating dynamic stretches into a workout will help reduce injury and improve blood flow to the working muscle. So why not head out and enjoy the warm weather, feel great, have fun and see fantastic results as you walk your way to better health!