Usually when we think about doing stretching exercises we think of "static stretching" routines in which one stretches a particular set of muscles and "holds" that stretch for 20-30 seconds. Examples include: bending over and touching the toes, or alternately stretching each arm diagonally across the body and "holding".
Dynamic stretching exercises are different!
Dynamic stretches are a series of gentle arm and leg swings performed in a smooth controlled manner. They involve continuous movement throughout the exercise and are considered more effective in "warming" up a muscle and promoting more blood flow to the region than do static stretches. Dynamic stretching also promotes increased flexibility for more than one muscle group at a time. They are generally more comfortable to perform.
These exercises are most often used to prepare the body for physical exertion before sports events. Stretching out muscles by using movements similar to those that occur during athletic competitions accustoms the body to those movements and oxygenates muscles to improve strength, balance and overall performance. Injuries during competitions have been reduced. It is thought these stretching routines have both short and long term effects (CDC and University of Nevada).
Although usually sport specific, dynamic stretching can be tailored to fit your own needs and they can be used as a daily exercise routine, too. Most do not require special equipment. A brisk walk can qualify. So can a comfortable jog. Be mindful to use good form and do not over do. Start out gradually. Consult your Doctor if you have preexisting conditions or you develop even early signs and symptoms that may be counterproductive to your health while performing these exercises.
Below are examples of exercises to try. They have been divided into categories: Lying, Sitting, and Standing/Walking. Have fun with them!
UVA/EHS would like to thank UVA’s Dean Schlemmer, Karen Allen (PT, UVA, retired), and Tina Andersen (PT, Bridges Wellness & Physical Therapy Consultants, LLC) for the production of the videos below.