A Dynamic Warmup Reins Supreme As Prep For Performance

Full length portrait of a motivated african sportsman doing stretching exercises on a track field outdoors
Mike Bewley, MA, CSCS*D, SSN, USAW-I

Mike Bewley, MA, CSCS*D, SSN, USAW-I

President & Founder of DWMA

Static stretching, which requires holding a stretch for 10-seconds or longer while motionless, was the preferred type of warmup by coaches and athletes for decades. However, a range of new studies supports dynamic warmups as a superior way to prep for performance (1).

The first, in a collection of studies, was led at Stephen F. Austin University (2, 3). The study compared individuals who practiced static stretching before lifting to those who performed dynamic warmups. The results showed significant strength impairments with the static stretching group. Even individuals who completed both types of warmups — static and dynamic — showed restricted boosts in performance compared to dynamic movements like explosive lunges.

Another study by Croatian researches examined 104 prior studies concerning stretching and its impact on athletic performance. Regardless, of fitness level, gender, or age, the study concluded static stretching before training impaired strength levels and explosive movements (2).

Moreover, while more research is needed to determine precisely why static stretching hurts performance so much, I would ponder:

  1. It activates the muscles used during training. For example, performing DWMA’s Lunge-n-Reach with a twist engages the big-toe, legs, hips, core, and thoracic muscles. Whether performing DB lunges in the weight room or lunging for a loose ball on the court, the muscles engaged during your warm-up were activated.
  2. Dynamic stretching improves range of motion. (5). When you can barely bend over to tie your shoes after a hard leg day, a dynamic warm-up routine can help you feel more limber.
  3. Dynamic movement improves body awareness. If you forgo a warm-up and jump right into a basketball game, your body cannot perform optimally. Dynamic movement as you stretch challenges your balance and coordination; skills that can help your performance.
  4. Build strength and muscle with dynamic warm-ups. Several studies confirm that you can lift heavier, have more power, and increase overall athletic performance if you avoid static stretching and select dynamic stretching before a workout (6, 7). So, if building muscle and getting stronger is your goal, a dynamic warm-up routine is likely your best bet.

Bibliography

  1. The effect of static stretching on phases of sprint performance in elite soccer players. Sayers, A.L., Farley, R.S., Fuller, D.K., et al. Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2008 Sep;22(5):1416-21.
  2. Acute effect of passive stretching on lower-body strength in moderately trained men. Gergley, J.C. Department of Kinesiology and Human Science, Stephen F. Austin State University. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2013 April;27(4):973-7.
  3. Does pre-exercise static stretching inhibit maximal muscular performance? A meta-analytical review. Simic, L., Sarabon, N., Markovic, G. Motor Control and Human Performance Laboratory, University of Zagreb. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 2013 Mar;23(2): 131-48.
  4. Does pre-exercise static stretching inhibit maximal muscular performance? A meta-analytical review. Simic, L., Sarabon, N., Markovic, G. Motor Control and Human Performance Laboratory, University of Zagreb. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. 2013 Mar;23(2):  131-48.
  5. Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. Page, Phil. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 2012 February.
  6. Effects of static stretching for 30 seconds and dynamic stretching on leg extension power. Yamaguchi, T., Ishii, K. Laboratory of Human Performance, Hokkaido University. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2005 Aug.
  7. A comparison of two warm-ups on joint range of motion. Beedle, B.B., Mann, C.L.. Physical Fitness Testing Laboratory, Department of Health and Human Performance, Elon University, Elon, North Carolina. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2007 Aug;21(3):776-9.

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