Stretching Vs a Dynamic warm up
The science behind sport performance and preparation for activity is a fluid and ever developing discipline that is becoming more and more utilised by athletes and coaches alike. The focus in sport is building towards the best performances and achievements of the bigger, faster and more conditioned athletes. However, when it comes to warm ups, the science seems to be largely overlooked by most athletes/performers/teams. The current dogma of training is the performance of some gentle running followed by some stretches – hamstrings, calves, thighs etc (it is important to note that these stretches are ‘static’ in nature).
This routine can be seen from under 11’s football to competitive triathlon performances. how does this benefit you? whats the evidence for this? can you prepare in a better way?
It is important to note that the research on stretching and warmups needs development, but from the work that has been completed so far certain training tips can be taken.
The use of a ‘dynamic’ warm up is a much better way of preparing your body for exercise. This should not take much (if any) more time than the more traditional stretch prior to your workout or performance. The key is that it should be more specifically geared towards your chosen activity. With this in mind, it will be much more effective.
A dynamic warm up should involve total body movements that will gently increase in intensity, thus helping to maintain the temperature of your muscles, tendons and ligaments. There is a lot of research showing that more static forms of stretching can dull the speed of muscular and tendon responses. This means that the stretch routine you do before you workout can actually increase the chances that you may injure yourself.
Form a therapeutic point of view, a dynamic warm up is more beneficial for many reasons. The main benefits hinge around the idea of specificity. A dynamic warm up will help to prepare your nervous system as much as it will prepare your heart and lungs. This is very important as it will help to enhance your coordination for the chosen activity. Also, mentally, a dynamic warmup will help to focus your mind on the job at hand.