Dynamic stretching is a form of exercise that involves moving through various positions while maintaining a certain level of flexibility. It is often used to improve range of motion (ROM) and reduce pain associated with injuries such as plantar fasciitis, herniated disks, and other muscle strains. There are many different types of dynamic stretches, but they all involve some degree of movement from one position to another.
The most common type of dynamic stretching is the “active” variety. Active means that it requires active muscular contraction rather than passive relaxation.
For example, if you were to sit down and relax your legs at the knee, then you would not be doing any kind of dynamic stretch because there is no active movement involved. However, if you were to actively move them up and down while keeping them relaxed, then you would be performing a dynamic stretch.
Another type of dynamic stretching is called the “passive” variety. Passive means that it does not require active muscle contraction; rather, it relies on relaxation.
For example, if you were to lie down and relax your arms at the elbow, then you would be doing no kind of dynamic stretch since there is no active movement involved. However, if you were to passively move your arm up and down without relaxing your arm at all, then you would be performing a passive stretch.
Ultimately, it does not matter whether or not you perform an active or passive stretch. They are both just as good and can achieve the desired results.
That being said, some people find that one is easier to perform than the other. Some also believe that only one type of stretch should be used in order to avoid muscle strain or injury, but this theory has never been proven.
The History of Dynamic Stretching
Dynamic stretching dates all the way back to the ancient Greeks. They introduced it as a warm up for athletes who would participate in events such as discus throwing, javelin throwing, and running.
It was believed that the practice improved flexibility and range of motion (ROM). In fact, the word “stretching” itself traces its roots back to the ancient Greeks. At the time, it was known as “disseasing,” which means to cause something to loosen up. (
Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?
Despite this ancient form of stretching, most athletes until fairly recently did not perform any kind of warm-up. The theory at the time was that exercise itself was enough of a warm-up and that spending time doing certain exercises would slow down the body’s natural ability to do what it needed to during competition.
It wasn’t until the late 1800s that dynamic stretching started to gain some momentum. It was reintroduced by a German physician, F.M.
Mueller. He was an advocate for stretching as he believed that it reduced the chance of injury in athletes and improved blood flow.
The 1900s brought about even more research and studies on stretching, especially as it related to sports. Australian researchers experimented with different types of stretching and found that stretching a muscle and holding it for about 45 seconds produced the best ROM increases.
Over time, other forms of stretching were introduced such as PNF (see below). Despite all this new research, many coaches and trainers still believed that warm up was a waste of time and even believed that it could be dangerous to the muscles and joints.
Thankfully, by the 1970s and 1980s more and more research came out showing that static and dynamic stretching did not cause any muscle damage and actually reduced the chance of injury. Since then, almost all coaches, trainers, and athletes incorporate some type of stretching into their daily routines.
Today, there are many different types of stretches that can be used during a warm up or even as a cool down. Stretching protocols also differ from sport to sport and on an individual basis.
The Importance of Dynamic Stretching
As mentioned above, dynamic stretching is the type of stretching that most people are probably familiar with. Even if someone has never heard the term “dynamic stretching,” they have probably still done it at some point in time.
It simply refers to any type of stretch that involves moving a body part in some way before engaging in another exercise. For example, a classic hamstring stretch is to stand up and try to touch your toes.
A dynamic version of this would be to lean forward and try to touch your toes while flexing your hamstring muscle as hard as you can.
While many people just starting their fitness journey may only do static stretching, those a bit more experienced with exercising usually do a combination of both.
The reason for this is that while both are beneficial, they work in different ways and target different points along the range of motion for a given exercise.
For example again, static stretching aims to improve flexibility by targeting the muscle itself and allowing it to reach a point that it wouldn’t be able to otherwise. This has both short-term and long-term benefits.
In the short-term, it allows someone to perform certain exercises better.
Sources & references used in this article:
The acute effects of combined static and dynamic stretch protocols on fifty-meter sprint performance in track-and-field athletes by IM Fletcher, R Anness – Journal of strength and conditioning …, 2007 – search.proquest.com
The effect of different warm-up stretch protocols on 20 meter sprint performance in trained rugby union players by IM Fletcher, B Jones – The Journal of Strength & …, 2004 – anneclairepannier.free.fr
The effects of a combined static-dynamic stretching protocol on athletic performance in elite Gaelic footballers: A randomised controlled crossover trial by M Loughran, P Glasgow, C Bleakley… – Physical Therapy in Sport, 2017 – Elsevier
Effects of differential stretching protocols during warm-ups on high speed motor capacities in professional soccer players by T Little, AG Williams – Journal of strength and conditioning …, 2006 – e-space.mmu.ac.uk