by Dr. Corey
Remember back in school when the gym or PE teacher used to make us do jumping jacks, mountain climbers and other things like that? The reason behind it wasn’t necessarily meant to burn off a bunch of kid’s built up energy. On second thought, maybe it was! In reality it’s an activity we call dynamic warm up. I also remember doing stretches in gym class as well like bending over to touch my toes. That is called static stretching. Dynamic warm up and static stretching are things we do to keep ourselves from becoming injured when it comes to exercise or sport. My reason for talking about both today is because I’ve seen them performed incorrectly on many occasions.
The most common mistake people make is using static stretching at the wrong time. I’ve seen variations of it used in place of dynamic warm up all the way from a kid’s field day to professional sports. In these situations where we should be warming our muscles ligaments and tendons up, we are relaxing them instead.
Before any physical exercise or activity I will start with dynamic warm up first. It’s important that we prepare all of our joints, muscles, and connective tissue for rigorous movement. They raise your heart rate, increase internal body temperature and blood flow to muscles, stimulate the nervous system, all of which help decrease our risk for injury. The dynamic warm ups that I will typically do are high knees, butt kicks, straight leg marches, lunges, and power skips. Static stretching is what I will end my exercises with. I use it as a cool down. Depending on what I did that day, that will be my main focus. Say I did squats for my work out, I will focus on working with low back, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves. Stretching each major muscle group for at least a minimum of 30 seconds each. This leads to improvement of flexibility and range of motion in those muscles and the connective tissue surrounding and supporting it. Static stretching helps your muscles recover more quickly as well.
Use these two techniques properly and you will maintain your physical health and prevent injuring yourself!