Earl W. Fee is the author of How to be a Champion from 9 to 90. The book is about Body,Mind & Spirit Training.
Lately many running coaches have begun to realize that there is a much better way of warming up for training or competition than the traditional (jog, static stretch, and perhaps some strides).
This new way uses exercises which mimic running and is called the dynamic warmup.
ABC sprint drills (described below- at the end of the article), leg swinging exercises, fast strides, and plyometrics, but with little or no static stretching in view of it’s several major disadvantages during a warmup. The rational for this switch to little or no stretching before a workout or competition and the advantages of the dynamic warmup are explained below.
Static stretching is still very beneficial and needs to be done daily, but at the right time, and always after warming the muscles. Static stretching is recommended shortly after the workout, when muscles are warm; this provides maximum flexibility, improves recovery, reduces lactate and soreness in muscles, thus helping prevent injury. But after a strenuous workout or hard race, particularly if there are sore muscles, wait two hours before stretching to let the micro trauma and lactic acid subside.
Disadvantages of Static Stretching Before Training or a Race
Recent research trials and literature surveys indicate the following disadvantages:
Static stretching does not warm up muscles sufficiently. The warming up during jogging is often lost during the long static stretching session, usually 10 to 15 minutes. This is particularly the case during cold outdoor weather.
There is little similarity or specificity between static stretching and the rapid lengthening (eccentric contraction) and shortening (concentric contraction) of muscles under load while running when injuries occur.
Static stretching even though mild leads to some micro tears in muscle cells and stretching masks pain. Therefore static stretching immediately prior to training particularly if stretching is intense or prolonged could lead to injury if followed by intense or prolonged exercise.
Possible decreased performance. Research shows stretching within 60 minutes before the start of competition or training leads to decreased force output. Peak force and rate of force may be reduced by a few percent. Strength decreases slightly up to an hour after long static stretching. Hence performance is decreased in endurance and speed events.
Many recent trials and literature surveys indicate static stretching before exercise is not beneficial to prevent injuries: for example, notably an Australian study of 1538 army recruits doing intense exercise (Pope et al, 2000), and a review of 138 sport science articles (Shrier, 1999). However I believe it is impossible to be conclusive on this point since there are many variables to consider: e.g., elite vs. recreational athlete, young vs. old athlete, flexible vs. inflexible athlete, intense exercise vs. non intense, and type of sport. In fact the risk of injury appears about even in favor of static stretch, or not at all before a workout; this would be a fairer statement.
This is not a central nervous system activity unlike running or a dynamic warmup.
There is no similarity to actual running since most of the stretching is done while stationary while sitting or lying down.
Static flexibility deals with structure and maximum range whereas dynamic flexibility as in running deals with the central nervous system and “easy range of motion (McHugh, 1977).” Big differences.
Decreased blood flow compared with dynamic warmup. In some events such as sprinting too much flexibility can be detrimental.
Summary of Above DisadvantagesIn view of the above disadvantages, stretching before a strenuous workout or competition is not recommended. Instead a dynamic warmup is recommended. However the traditional jog and gentle stretch before an easy workout could still be retained.
Dynamic Stretching Benefits
There are some HUGE benefits to dynamic stretching, which is an excellent full body warm up before any type of intense activity whether you’re about to play sports, or lift weights. Just about every athletic team in the country from little league to professional sports performs dynamic stretching before exercising.
Dynamic Stretching Benefit #1: Full Body Warm Up
The traditional warm up is to walk, or run on a treadmill, or some other low level cardio activity for 5-10 minutes to raise the temperature of your muscles to help prevent injury. Dynamic stretching warms your body up even faster than low level aerobic activity and offers other benefits. I sometimes combine a couple minutes of low level aerobic activity, such as jump rope, or even jumping jacks at the end of my dynamic stretching routine to get my heart rate up. Just an idea!
Dynamic Stretching Benefit #2: Improves Kinesthetic Awareness
The major downside of the traditional warm up routine of jogging is that it doesn’t prepare you for the intensity of your workout and all the different movement patterns that you will likely use. Kinesthetic awareness is the understanding of where your body is in space and time. For example, if you try to touch the tips of your fingers together on both hands, that’s a simple example of kinesthetic awareness, which is very important before working out. Dynamic stretching can mimic the exercises that you will perform during your workout to help your body get used to the movements.
Dynamic Stretching Benefit #3: Improves Flexibility
Flexibility is defined as the range of motion about a joint. Dynamic stretching can help improve the range of motion around the joints in your body to help you perform better and may prevent injury. While some research indicates stretching before, or after exercise may not prevent injury, it certainly does enhance performance and it’s worthwhile in my opinion.
Dynamic Stretching Routine & Exercises
Here’s an example of a dynamic stretching routine I use to get a full body warm up in only a few minutes. I have added detail below each exercise to give you more ideas depending on your fitness level.
Dynamic Stretching Exercise #1: Lunge With A Lean
This dynamic stretching exercise helps loosen up your psoas and hips, while engaging your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and even calves. I love this one! Just remember to complete this exercise slow and controlled to really feel the stretch and reach with your arm. You can also do this exercise while walking forward, instead of staying stationary.
Dynamic Stretching Exercise #2: Side Lunge Touching Heel
This the basic version of a more advanced dynamic stretching exercise you take your right elbow and bring it as close to your heel as possible if you are lunging with your right leg. By just touching your heel with the opposite hand, you still get a nice groin stretch, but it does not open up the hips as much as trying to touch your heel with your elbow.
Dynamic Stretching Exercise #3: Straight Leg Kicks
This is an awesome hamstring stretch, which also brings your core stability into play. Just be careful not to kick too hard, which would turn this from a dynamic stretch into “ballistic” stretch, which means the range of motion is beyond what you can handle comfortably.
Dynamic Stretching Exercise #4: Knee To Chest
You can’t see from the photo below, but as I’m bringing my knee to my chest, I’m also raising my opposite foot off the ground, like a calf raise. This helps you bring your knee those extra few inches higher to accentuate the stretch.
Dynamic Stretching Exercise #5: Arm Circles
I complete this stretch religiously, but I use a more advanced version where I hold 10lb plates, or dumbbells, then circle each arm backwards several times, then forwards. Your shoulder has the largest range of motion of any joint in your body, so it’s imperative to properly warm it up. While I love this exercise, a close second is the T-Pushup (See: Push Up Variations).
I know there is a lot of information in this post, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. I hope it gave you a helpful overview of dynamic stretching and you are excited to try this dynamic stretching routine on your own.
An ideal warmup increases muscle and joint temperature by one or two degrees, and simulates actual running movements which stimulate the central nervous system, cardiovascular, psychological and physiological systems. As explained below the dynamic warmup does all of these more effectively than static stretching.
Advantages of Dynamic Warmup
Consistent ABC drills practised for about 6 weeks could result in reduced stride contact time by about 0.01 seconds. This is a significant improvement: for example, about one second in a 200m race or over a minute in a 10K race.
Joint mobility is improved to a greater extent compared to static stretching.
The cardiovascular system is worked on at the same time as the muscles and joints.
The movements are specific to actual running. The movements reinforce and teach the good running form movements that improve running performance. Hence running form/technique can be worked on and improved during the warmup.
The movements result in increased muscle temperature compared to static stretching, hence muscle contractions are more rapid and forceful.
By simulating actual running movements the athlete is better prepared physiologically and psychologically for training or competition compared to static stretching.
By substituting dynamic movements for static stretching the muscle micro tears can be avoided.
The activities normally include fast movement plyometrics (jumping, hopping, bounding) which result in forces of 5 to 10 times body weight through the whole body and central nervous system. These exercises will improve reaction time, strength, explosive power, and stride length; also running economy in distance runners can be improved by 4 to 6 percent.
A dynamic warmup involving plyometrics activates the neural pathways of the central nervous system in movements mimicking running movements. The plyometric exercises will help to retain the neural pathways. This is particularly important to older athletes who tend to lose neural pathways and associated fast twitch fibers due to lack of fast resistive movements in training.
Recommended Dynamic Warmup Sequence (from the book How to be a Champion...)
- Sprinters walk or jog for 400 meters. Distance runners jog for about a mile.
- Leg swinging to exercise all parts of the lower body except the calves.
- Sprint ABC’s drills. Do 2 x 30m of each with brisk walk back.
- A: High knee marching
- B: Foreleg extension marching (exaggerated running motion)
- C: Butt kicks
- Gestapo skipping
- High knees running
- Karioka ( sideways running while criss- crossing the legs)
- Quick-low-short steps drill for 15 meters then accelerate for 15 meters
- 12 lunges
- The following drills are done on the spot
- Feet bouncing for 30 seconds (stand on one foot, bounce the other foot rapidly.)
- Fast arms drill for 1 minute sitting or standing.
- Start in initial weeks with double leg hops, about 20 foot contacts per session and work up to one legged hops and a total of 60 contacts per session after a month. Progress to bounding after about 3 weeks.
- Sprints Do 5 x 50m at 90% effort with walk back. First and last reps are slower
- Walk 400 meters and start the training or competition.
Some of the above steps may be omitted. Not counting the walks a shorter version of the above should take only about 25 minutes. In this time a mild perspiration and in increased heart rate should be achieved.
How to be a Champion from 9 to 90 by Earl W. Fee
Web Site www.feetnessforlife.com
by Earl W. Fee © 2003
previous link click ...>> [[back]] <<...