In my past few blog posts, I have discussed the importance and
benefits of stretching coupled with deep breathing as an important
tool for fitness and health.
I’ve received several emails from dear readers, asking whether you
should stretch as part of your warmup, before moving into the main
part of your workout.
Yes, stretching is an important part of warming up for almost every
type of activity. But the best type of stretching for warming up may
There are a number of different methods of stretching, ranging from
dynamic stretching to PNF to long, static stretching to partner
assisted stretching to ….. well, the list goes on.
There is even the ol’ rope method of stretching, by which you tie a
rope around both ankles and have your partner pull until you are
doing splits, kinda like Jean Claude Van Damme in his action movies
from the 80s and 90s.
Then there is the “do a split while your instructor comes by and
kicks your legs even further apart” technique. Yes, I had an
instructor who was old school and thought this was a good method
for making sure his students were actually stretching as far as
This particular exercise would be followed by the “re-attach your
legs” drill, typically performed slowly and with great anguish and
I advise you try this method only if you don’t have to walk
anywhere for the next couple of days!
When warming up, a lot of people tend to focus on static
stretching, or holding a stretched position for 15 to 30 seconds.
This is probably the worst way to stretch if you are preparing
your body for activity.
You see, when you stretch statically, you are attempting to push
(or pull) the targeted muscles past their normal range of motion.
You affect the stretch reflex of the muscles in a manner that
actually reduces the strength of the muscles.
Also, stretching this way, before your body is fully warmed up,
can lead to micro tears in the muscles.
If you stretch statically prior to activity, you may actually be
predisposing yourself to muscle injury. At a minimum, your muscles
will not have as much “spring” in them, which will affect your
workout or competition performance.
A much better way to stretch for warming up is to perform
With dynamic stretching, you focus on movement and range of
motion around your joints: neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips,
knees and ankles. You start with slower, controlled movements
with smaller ranges of motion. You increase the range of motion
over one or two sets of about 8 to 10 repetitions.
Examples of these exercises include arm circles, waist twists,
knee bends, and straight leg kicks.
You also move from generalized movements to ones that are
specific to your chosen activity.
It’s very important that you breathe in accordance with the
movements of each stretch. One of the purposes of warming up is
to help your breathing “catch up” with the physical activity you
As you increase the range of motion and speed of your stretching,
you should make your breathing more full and robust as well.
This method of stretching warms up muscles, joints and connective
tissue. It gets the blood flowing and raises your body temperature
much more than static stretching does. And it gets you warmed up
and ready for action much more quickly.
It’s also a very effective way to increase the range of motion
and flexibility of your muscles and joints.
As an aside, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of working
on joint flexibility. My hips feel the thousands and thousands of
kicks I’ve done over the years. The only reason I can still train
hard today is because, a number of years ago, I began putting
more emphasis on dynamic stretching, not just static stretching.
If I hadn’t, I probably would not be able to kick much at all
now. I might even have trouble walking, like some of my martial
arts compadres do.
You should definitely include dynamic stretching as a central
part of your warm up routine. It’s a great way to coax your body
and lungs into higher intensity activity, so you can proceed with,
and enjoy, your workout.
It’s also a wonderful way to preserve, and even improve, the
resiliency and health of your joints and connective tissues.
If you would like access to an extremely effective, yet easy to
learn and do, set of dynamic exercises, check out “Dynamic
Flexibility: The Secret to Healthy, Pain-Free Joints, Limber
Muscles and Maximum Mobility” .
The program features flexibility exercises that will give you
limber, ready-to-move muscles and loose, pain-free joints in
just a few minutes a day. Yet it’s so easy and enjoyable, you’ll
actually look forward to stretching! Order “Dynamic Flexibility:
The Secret To Healthy, Pain-Free Joints, Limber Muscles and
Maximum Mobility“, and discover a better AND more enjoyable way
to improve your flexibility and preserve the health of your
One more thing: I’m offering the program at a special price…for
now, anyways. So be sure to check out the program today!
You Can Do It!
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2010
2 thoughts on “Loosen Up!”
You are so right on with the dynamic stretching. I tell my clients to static stretch away from exercise and dynamic stretch/movement prior to exercise. I love reading your blogs as your information is so right on.
Yours In Health!
Dr. Wendy M. Schauer, D.C., R.K.C.
Come Experience The Power of the Russian KettleBell Revolution at Kettlebell Olympia – Home of A Better Body With Bells!
I was taught by my aerobics instructor in the late 80s to do an active warm up first for about 5 minutes before stretching of any kind. It really does help to do just like you’re recommending to avoid those micro tears which can be painful.
Happy Dating and Relationships,
Dating After 40 Expert