Static Stretching vs. Dynamic Warm-ups

Warm UpThere has been a lot of buzz in the fitness world lately about dynamic warmups. If you aren’t familiar with dynamic warmups, the trend in fitness today is to actively take your body through a series of movements while working on flexibility and range of motion, as opposed to simply stretching or reaching or pulling a muscle or muscle group for 30 to 60 seconds to “get more flexible.”

I’m a big fan of dynamic warmups and was first introduced to them several years ago by my friend Kurt Hester. Kurt is a strength & conditioning coach who trains athletes at all levels of fitness. He has been at the collegiate level, the professional level, and now spends a lot of his time prepping college football players for the NFL Combine and NFL Draft. If you’re a college baseball fan, you may not have realized it, but you witnessed Kurt’s handy work in the late 1990s with the Louisiana State University baseball team. The 1997 LSU team set an NCAA record for home runs in a season, and their style of play was dubbed “Gorilla Ball” because of their strength and size, compliments of Kurt.

But, Kurt also understands the biomechanics of the body, and his athletes aren’t just “getting bigger.” He’s training them smartly by incorporating dynamic warmups into his pre-workout routines. He’s taking the athlete’s joints through full ranges of motion prior to working them. It increases blood flow and allows Kurt the opportunity to recognize any dysfunctions or limitations that the athlete might have. He’s a big fan of Egoscue and has incorporated several e-cises into his warmups as well.

Another “big fan” of Egoscue is Dr. Mercola. One of the leading health physicians on the planet, Dr. Mercola blogged today about dynamic warmups and active stretching. He also talked a bit about his Egoscue experience. Check it out:

Why ‘Active’ Stretching May be Better than ‘Static’ Stretching

If you have ever tried stretching, you most likely followed what most experts have advised, which is that stretching should last up to 60 seconds. For decades this prolonged static stretching technique has been the gold standard. However, what research is now showing is that prolonged static stretching actually decreases the blood flow within your tissue creating localized ischemia (a restriction in blood supply) and lactic acid buildup. This can potentially cause irritation or injury of local muscular, tendinous, lymphatic, as well as neural tissues.

So I looked at some American variants to conventional stretching, like the Egoscue Method, which is a series of very specific posture stretches and special exercises tailored to each person’s specific needs. Egoscue helps to restore muscular balance and skeletal alignment and is often used as a natural method of pain relief. This method did work well for me and I was able to eliminate the pain I had when I got out of my chair or car and that was great.

Earlier this year, I met a personal trainer who had fine-tuned her therapy for those who were injured. She wound up doing some very specific stretching techniques to help them and she found out that the techniques led to improvements in chronic degenerative conditions like MS, Parkinson’s and ALS.

I found this fascinating and what I subsequently came to realize is that a bulk of the improvement was related to moving the fascia, which is the connective sheaths covering your muscles. When they move, they create tiny pizeolectric signals that can improve your overall health. At that point I started to reengage with a technique that I learned earlier called AIS.

Moving the fascia (the connective sheath that runs through the body and connects muscles to muscles) is huge. When we stop moving, the fascia looses its ability to glide on top of the muscle and becomes stuck. When the fascia gets adhered to the muscles it’s like a peanut butter & jelly sandwich that gets smashed together–it can be a bit of a challenge to get the PB&J separated again. By taking the body through full range-of-motion movements, we’re much more able to impact the fascia and get it moving and gliding on top of the muscles again.

If you’re headed to the gym to workout, do your Egoscue menu first and then do a dynamic warmup like this one from Todd Durkin before you get started:

My guess is that you’ll get more out of your workout, and your body will thank you for it!

QUESTION: What’s your favorite dynamic warm-up move?