The dynamic warm-up is a crucial part to any strength and conditioning program. Not only does this reduce the risk of injury, it also has been proven to enhance performance by preparing the muscles, tendons and ligaments to be stretched and contracted at optimal rates. Over the last couple of decades the approach to warming up for athletic events has evolved through a better scientific understanding of the human body. Previously, both ballistic and static stretching were the preferred means of warming up. Today we now know that prolonged static stretching can actually increase your chance for injury and hinder performance. This is largely in part due to the decrease in elasticity of the muscles and ligaments that occurs during static stretching. This elasticity is crucial for optimal performance and ensuring the body isn’t overstretched causing pulls, sprains or tears.
So what is a dynamic warm-up and how is it different than a ballistic stretch? Although these may appear to be very similar activities, the key difference can be summed up in one word, control. Ballistic stretches force the limb into an extended range of motion when the muscle has not relaxed enough to enter it. It involves fast “bouncing” movements where a double bounce is performed at the end range of movement. Due to the uncontrolled nature of this type of warm-up, injury to vital muscles and nerves can occur. It is even possible for tissue to be ripped off the bone. A dynamic warm-up may use some of the same exercises as ballistic stretching but with reduction in speed in order for the movements to remain controlled and avoid a protective response by our body known as the Stretch Reflex. Below is an example of a dynamic warm-up.
Part #1 (Pre warm-up)
- 3-5 minutes of mild-moderate cardio
Examples: Jump rope, jogging, elliptical, rowing machine.
Part #2 (Dynamic movement)
-Emphasis on height not distance
-Make sure the arms are involved
- Butt Kickers
-Emphasis on repetitions not speed
-Avoid excessive forward lean / keep chest up
-Make sure you are striking the ground softly with the ball of the foot
- Lunge W/twist (towards the forward leg)
-Emphasis on a slow controlled movement
-Emphasis on achieving greater thoracic (mid back) mobility
-Control throughout entire range of motion
-Watch for knees to stay in line of toes
- High knee pull
-Emphasis on hip flexors, glutes and calves
-Avoid momentum while pulling knee back
-Allow for you entire upper body to pull the knee, not relying on the arms
- Monster walks (straight leg opposite arm touches toe)
-Avoid rounding back when reaching for toe
-Control the upwards faze (don’t try to punt the ball)
These are just a few examples of exercises that might be used in a dynamic warm-up. Ultimately the goal of a dynamic warm-up is to better prepare your body for the activity to which you are about to perform. Many of these exercises can be modified to become more sport specific or to accommodate for injuries. For more information on dynamic warm-ups or how to alter your current warm-up to become more sport specific, please contact Will Paton.