Stretching through muscles has always been a staple in any exercise warm-up routine, but how do we know what stretches to do and when and how to get the maximum benefit from them? In this article, we will discuss how to perform lower limb dynamic stretches and their benefits…
What ARE Dynamic Stretches?
- Dynamic stretching itself helps move the muscles and joints in their full range of motion during physical activity. This in turn helps the body achieve its full movement potential in exercise and sport and also aids in enhancing performance and reducing the risk of injury inactivity.
- When undergoing dynamic stretches always think about how they can relate to the exercise/sport you are about to do.. for example, before completing a swim session performing arm circles and leg circles could be a great way of mimicking stroke work in the pool to help your body more effectively when participating in your actual workout.
WHEN to perform them?
- Before undergoing any sort of dynamic exercises aim to complete 5 to 10 minutes of very light cardio to help warm-up, an example of this could be jogging. This helps prepare your muscles and joints for a dynamic warmup. When starting your stretches make sure to start with a small range of motion movements and gradually increasing with each rep.
What ARE the benefits?
- Dynamic exercises help to increase the temperature of your muscles, this then aids in helping them to reach their full range of motion. It also encourages blood flow to guarantee that enough oxygen reaches your muscles to prepare for exercise.
- Increasing your nerve activity. Your nerves move muscles by sending electrical signals. By stretching dynamically, your nerves send the correct signals before your workout begins. This trains your nerves and muscles to work together more effectively.
- Dynamic stretches use more of your full range of movement compared to static stretching which is performed in one plane of movement. Stretching dynamically helps your muscles prepare for exercise and aids your joints and muscles to engage in your full range of motion for your sport/exercise.
- Dynamic exercises also help in decreasing overall injury risk as it increases joint and muscle mobility which can help prevent injury.
Examples of lower limb Dynamic Stretches
- Front Leg Raise and Toe Tap: Body standing upright position. Using 1 leg with knee slightly bent and arms extended in front of the body. Using a gradual motion swing leg in front to a 45-degree angle to touch toes to extended hands. Back down to upright position. Make sure the leg you are standing on is anchored and also slightly bent at the knee to help with stability. 40 reps on each leg.
- Side Cross Swings: Body standing in an upright position. Using 1 leg extended to the side at about a 40-degree angle. Using a gradual motion cross the leg down and over across the other leg which is stationary. Reps 40 on each leg.
- Front Swings: Body standing upright position. Using 1 leg with knee slightly bent, arms can be to the side of the body. Using a gradual motion swing leg from behind you to follow through to the front at a 45-degree angle. Leg back down to upright position. Make sure the leg you are standing on is anchored and also slightly bent at the knee to help with stability. 40 reps on each leg.
- Lunge Torso Twists: Body standing in an upright position. Arms extended in front. Perform a lunge by stepping forward on one leg and bending both knees keeping parallel to each other. Keeping legs stable and bent at the knee. Twist body in gradual motion to the side of the body on which leg performed the lunge. Step back up to the upright position. 40 reps per leg.