Most people would probably know the importance of warming up before jumping into exercise to decrease the chance of injuries, right? Possibly! Warming up before starting exercise is important as it prepares the body to take on an increased load more optimally.
There are two common activities people often use to warm up. One is dynamic activities such as light walking, cycling, swinging leg movements, heel-to-bottoms, or even light gym-based exercises before adding on the extra weights. The other is static stretching – you know, the good old straight-leg hands to toes stretch that gives you that nice familiar hamstring burn. Both of these methods have their place, but dynamic activities are shown to be far superior when it comes to an effective warmup.
Why, did you say? We’re glad you asked. Dynamic activities move your body while you stretch or just simply move your body, which is great! They work by increasing heart rate and blood flow to your body tissues and decreasing stiffness. This increases your body temperature, loosens up your ligaments, increases the fluidity of your joints, and prepares your muscles and tendons to withstand repetitive or high amounts of force. These are all key in injury prevention and optimal exercise and activity performance!
Static stretching alone is not very effective in achieving these outcomes when it comes to a good warmup, but it does have a very important role in injury prevention, rehabilitation, and optimal performance! This is because static stretching is useful in increasing or maintaining muscle length. When a muscle is tight or shorter than it should be, it can make moving more difficult, cause pain, weakness, and ultimately lead to a muscle strain injury. As a general guide, static stretching is best performed at the end of completing exercise during your cool down and is most effective when held for around 30 seconds!
We hope this has helped clear up some confusion for you about dynamic activity vs static stretching as a warmup. If you require any advice, injury management, or would like ways to get more active, please don’t hesitate to contact the clinic today!