Photo Credit: Dale Garvey

Many individuals involved in sports are familiar with what is known as static stretching. Static stretching is assuming a stationary position and holding it for 30-60 seconds and feeling a pulling or stretching sensation in the body with no bouncing or rapid movements.

Besides using a static stretch such as the touching of the toes after a workout, incorporate dynamic stretching to reduce the risk of injury and get prepared before the game. Warming up properly before competition prevents injuries. In the University of Connecticut Health Center’s article, “Safety Gear/Dynamic Stretching — Crucial in Preventing Common Sports Injuries,” Dr. Thomas Trojian emphasizes, “Runners, for example, can do a dynamic warmup by simply walking for five to 10 minutes. Doing the movement at a slower pace to allow blood to flow into the muscle is good preparation and can potentially help prevent injuries.”

Along with preventing injuries, dynamic stretching can also help improve sport performance. Dynamic stretching uses activity-specific movements, such as controlled leg and arm swings and torso twists that take a person to their full range of motion to warm up the muscles. It increases blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues prior to an active workout, preparing the body for physical exertion and sports performance. It’s important when using a dynamic stretch that the technique of the movements is slow to slightly raise the body temperature, and that the stretching is controlled. The advantage and benefit for an individual in sport is to use similar movements he or she would use during a game or activity. Dynamic stretching is a way for officials to prep for the game or match, putting them into the zone.

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If the sport requires running up and down the court or field, walking on the toes as opposed to using a regular static stretch of the calf muscles is a great way to warm up the legs. High knees is a dynamic stretch that consists of basic running with the individual bringing his/her knees higher up beyond the waistline. Butt kicks are also a way to prepare for a workout. It is a running technique where the back of the heels touch the individual’s bottom then the ground on every stride.

Other movements for alternative activities are a step slide, which is the same as a basketball defensive slide. The athlete is in a low athletic position, moving laterally by pushing off with one foot followed by the other, repetitively so the feet don’t touch or cross. The Carioca is a warmup in which one moves laterally crossing one foot in front of the other and then crossing behind forcing a rotation of the hips. All of those stretching exercises are a good way to prevent injuries and benefit performance.

Dynamic stretching with some arm circles or hand motions can prevent injuries and better prepare the individual for the game and competition.

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