Dynamic Stretching

| June 25, 2013 | Reply

Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching that involves motion and is regarded as a decently effective way of improving flexibility. It engages a very active range of motion and that is one of the reasons that it is widely ranked not only as a dependable means of reducing muscle tightness but also as an ideal warm up before engaging into a highly active sport (like martial arts) or before aerobic workout – although, just as any other stretching technique, dynamic stretching should not be regarded as warming up.

How Dynamic Stretching Works

Dynamic stretching actually differs from the perception most people or amateur athletes have in mind, involving controlled leg and arm motions which approach – but not surpass – the trainee’s flexibility limits. Actually, the term represents the quite opposite of the static type as it involves moving limbs and performing movements and stretches of short duration which are executed for several times.

dynamic stretching

The exact technique of performing dynamic stretches involves rapid but smooth movements, which generate a muscle reflex which contracts the muscle, before drawing back to the initial position. Therefore, your muscles are moved within their range of motion and without running the risk of being harmed or torn. In order to take full benefit of this type of stretching as well as reduce the chances of an unwanted injury, you should begin by making moves of moderate intensity that do not exceed your normal range of motion, or at least moves that do not create pain or major discomfort. When, after a few minutes, your muscles get accustomed to that range of motion and a specific rate, you can gradually widen your range of movement and pick up some pace at the same time.

Dynamic Stretching Exercises

To get an understanding of how this stretching type works, you can cast a glance at the following examples; yet, before attempting to carry out any of these, contemplate our Stretching Guide:

  • Chest stretch: This exercise, usually called arm swings when performed in dynamic mode, is considered as one of the simplest stretches; it requires you to just stand upright with your back straight and, starting from a position with your arms in front of your chest and your elbows bent usually at an angle of more than 90 degrees, move those arms backwards and then forwards on a continuous pace for the needed repetitions (typically, 8-15); as you progress through the repetitions, you can increase the arch made by your movements by pushing the stretch deeper and deeper, still without overdoing it (photo 1). For more chest stretches, click this!
  • Another one: From a standing position, kick one leg forward and then let your leg return to the starting position in a controlled manner, forming a comparatively low arch for the first repetition and take it progressively higher – and that is another dynamic stretching exercise, this time for the hamstrings (photo 2). For other hamstring stretches, click here!
  • Stand upright being supported by a wall; swing one leg out to one side and then swing it back across your body in front of your other leg, repeatedly, for 10 times for each leg (photo 3).
  • Also, stand in an upright position holding a big balloon-like ball at the level of your waist and rotating to both sides for some 8-15 repetitions.

Generally, a large variety of stretching exercises can be carried out in that way. As an illustration, other very popular dynamic stretches, with some of them being relatively simple and others more complicated in execution, include jogging in place (photo 4), shoulder circles, side bends, half squats or leg lunges, backswings with moving your heels up to your glutes, and many more. No need to notice that you can also apply static/PNF/isometric forms of the specific stretches.

In terms of the amount of repetitions required, trainers and fitness experts suggest that dynamic stretches should be performed in one or two sets of 8-15 repetitions. The photos below will help you better elaborate the aforementioned stretches and understand their dynamic nature!


Along with the typical benefits that most stretching types integrate, dynamic stretching features a bunch of specific traits that can be summarized into the following:

  • It is ideal for warming up the muscles and increasing the flow of blood into them, enabling them to reach a greater range of motion
  • It delivers the muscles more oxygen and vital nutrients while disposing off toxins, thus enhancing the trainee’s energy, stamina and recovery

  • It minimizes the risks of an injury or a tear as it promotes the elasticity of tendons and ligaments

  • It aids in preparing the muscles for a forthcoming strenuous activity

NOTICE: A recent study has shown negative effects of Pre Workout Dynamic Stretching! More information can be found here. Still, additional data should be gathered in order to reach safe conclusions!

What to Consider

  • It was mentioned before that the ideal number of repetitions is around 8-15; however, if you begin to experience fatigue before you complete the recommened number, it is better to stop than to continue by executing the exercises without taking your limbs to the end of the motion range, because, by doing so, you will force your nervous system to “remember” that limited range and thus compromise your progress, ending up in reaching less flexibility than you could have accomplished by properly carrying out your stretches.
  • Do not forget to breathe normally and consistently throughout your excercises!
  • There is no point in performing dynamic stretches post work-out! On the contrary, the characteristics of that stretching type converge to it being deemed as a technique used prior to a training session.

Dynamic vs Ballistic Stretching

If it hasn’t been made clear yet, it should be clarified at this point that dynamic stretching should by no means be confused with ballistic stretching. The most notable difference is that the former involves controlled movements of the body parts and muscles that keep on being below the limits of the person’s range. On the flip side, ballistic stretching calls for forcing a part or muscle beyond its range of motion; in addition, the latter is executed by bouncing motions, not at all delicate, and that’s why it can actually end up in reduced performance or even result in an injury.

Photos & Videos

Below you can watch a detailed video and a few photo examples to get a better idea on dynamic stretches.

Dynamic Chest Stretch - Arm Swings

Photo 1 – Dynamic Chest Stretch – Arm Swings


Dynamic Hamstring Stretch

Photo 2 – Dynamic Hamstring Stretch


Dynamic Adductor-Abductor Stretch

Photo 3 – Dynamic Adductor-Abductor Stretch

foot dynamic stretching

Photo 4 – Joggin in Place


Our Opinion

In general, dynamic stretching may not initially seem to be the ultimate method for achieving the uttermost range of your joints and muscles, but it is in fact quite effective in tissue extensibility and, most importantly, it is a very safe approach to that kind of activity, since it does not involve abrupt or bouncing motions. Therefore, and owing to its “vibrant” nature, it is no wonder that many trainers recommend performing dynamic stretches before physical activity, and especially for strength and power sports. Finally, it can be combined with other forms of stretching (mainly, with the “opposite” form, the static one) post work-out, delivering the best possible outcome for your body. In any case read our detailed guide on the Do’s and Don’ts of Stretching before trying any of these dynamic stretches!



Category: Types of Stretching

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