Do you take the time to stretch? As a society, we tend to be more sedentary than ever due to the pandemic. It’s so important that we keep our bodies as limber, loose, and in-equilibrium as much as possible. Stretching is a great way to accomplish all of the above!
Why Dynamic Stretching?
Stretching helps bring the body back into equilibrium and re-align the fascia. It can minimize tightness and/or adhesions in the body and prevent the build-up of lactic acid as well.
Stretching also helps to improve athletic performance and increase mobility. Stretching can reduce pain/soreness, increase flexibility, and increase blood flow too.
In short, it’s very good for the body and allows one to live a healthier and happier life.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
A dynamic stretch is any kind of stretch where you are moving through a motion. For these types of stretches you do not hold the stretch for X amount of time. That would be called static stretching.
When is the best time to dynamic stretch?
As a general rule, dynamic stretching is best after a workout, and static stretching is best pre-workout. However, if a particular muscle is very sore, static stretching for about 10-15 seconds is totally okay.
I highly recommend dynamic stretching morning, afternoon, and night to keep the body limber. In short, listen to your body. It usually will tell you what it needs.
I know that everyone’s schedule and daily demands are different. However, no matter what your schedule, I feel it can be helpful to set a timer on your phone for stretch breaks.
I do not recommend sitting for more than an hour without walking around and/or stretching.
With this being said, if every hour is not possible to stretch and move, I encourage everyone to find a realistic amount of time that works for them, and roll with that.
Stretching can last anywhere from 2-20 minutes depending on time available and the individual’s needs.
Furthermore, a lot of folks think to only stretch the bigger muscles such as quads and back. However, let’s not forget the smaller muscles such as wrists and ankles.
Simple ankle rotations and having a stress ball nearby can really help to keep these areas feeling good! If something like your wrist or ankle is out of alignment, it can throw your whole body off.
I am also a big fan of doing strength exercises for these muscle groups with very light weights. Please email me for info about these exercises if interested.
Remember, it’s our job to treat all parts of our bodies with love, kindness, and compassion!
Tools That Go With Stretching
Below is a list of fitness tools that go hand in hand with stretching. Please note, this is not a completely comprehensive list since new pieces of equipment are being developed all the time.
- Foam Roller - a tubular device that helps relieve tension in the body
- Hypervolt - essentially “a foam roller gun” that gives the body trigger point therapy at varying speeds
- Theracane - a plastic, shepherd’s hook looking thing that has triggers points all over it. Great for localized self massage
- Tennis Ball - great for rolling out the back, calves, and bottoms of feet-provides localized relief
- Lacrosse Ball - same as tennis ball, just a little harder material
- Electric Massager - there are many different kinds. Great for cervical, lumbar, and thoracic spine use. It’s important to find the right one for you.
- Epsom Salt Products - can come in the form of a scrub, cream, or bath salts. Great for use post-workout to treat sore or stiff muscles.
- Ice - good for sore or stiff muscles-use for 5-20 minutes depending on the individual
- Heat - good for sore or stiff muscles-same time frame as above-can alternate between heat and ice if desired and safe for you to do so
There are also tools that can aid one’s stretches. My favorite is a plastic semi-circle looking thing that you put your foot into and helps deepen your calf stretch.
Best Dynamic Stretches
There are many dynamic stretches that are beneficial. However, for the sake of time, I’m going to go over a couple of my favorites today.
Hip Flexor Stretch
- Stand hip-width distance apart with toes facing forward
- Bring one leg up to the height of your hip
- While keeping your hips square turn your knee out to the side
- Repeat on same side or you can alternate sides
- Stand hip-width distance apart with toes facing forward
- Stand on one leg
- Swing the standing leg (using little momentum) back and forth
High Plank to Downward Facing Dog
- Start in a high plank with hands and arms under shoulders
- Using your lower abdominals bring the body into an inverted V/downward facing dog
- Repeat this movement for a desired length of time that matches your need and fitness ability
- Feel free to peddle out the feet in downward dog if that feels good to do so
- This movement might not be suitable for everyone since not everyone can safely hold a plank. If this is the case, simply stay in downward facing dog and stretch out the body from that position.
- Stand feet hip-width distance apart
- Bring your arms out to the sides so that they are in line with your shoulders
- Then gently cross them over one another almost as if you are hugging yourself
- Repeat this movement as desired
- Stand with feet hip-width distance apart, toes facing forward
- Arms placed by your sides
- Tilt the head to one side
- Then come back to center
- Then tilt head to the other side
- Move through this flow as desired
Please note that no sharp pain should occur with any stretch. If this occurs, lay off that stretch for the day. If the pain consistently occurs, seek the advice of a medical professional.
We hope you all have found this article helpful regarding keeping your bodies in their best condition. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any comments or questions you might have.