Dynamic Warm Ups and Dynamic Stretching [Ramblings]

There is a difference between a dynamic warm up and dynamic stretching.

A dynamic warm up consists of movements done with the intention of calibrating the body for the activity at hand.

Dynamic stretching consists of movements performed for the purpose of increasing range of motion.

Of course, sometimes dynamic stretches are included in a dynamic warm up, but still the intention is to increase range. If you lack full range of motion in your “unprepared” state, you probably ought to include some well selected mobility work in your warm up.

But having the right intent is key. It is important to realize you’re doing mobility training, else you might not pay attention to the right details. Set your mind on improving range of motion, on exploring your end range mindfully.

If one is a novice to physical training or has particularly limited mobility, slower mobility exercises that emphasize coordination will serve well. Many experienced individuals could draw great benefit from such a practice as well.

Slow, deliberate mobility training can be used to carefully map the excursion of different areas of the body and find out where the problems lie. If you find an area that moves in a choppy fashion, slow down the movement and polish it up. If there is restriction, focus in on it and ease in deeper. (Oh grow up.) In either circumstance, make sure you also pay attention to your alignment.

There are some individuals, such as The Great Jujimufu, who are strong advocates of the use of high-speed mobility exercises or “ballistic stretches”. These are typically undertaken as part of a dynamic warm up for activities which demand the expression of power in deep ranges of motion, such as tricking. Such things can clearly be done safely if approached thoughtfully with a sufficiently pliable body, but I wonder if the practice would benefit from a bit of rebranding?

I suspect that dynamic high kicks, for instance, when properly practiced, aren’t employed to increase range of motion, but rather to practice explosive use of one’s available range of motion before an activity. So, while you really are stretching the muscle ballistically, using the word “stretching” creates some confusion, because many people associate it with the pursuit of flexibility.

The idea, then would be to use dynamic stretching as part of your dynamic warm up in order to achieve peak range of motion for your ballistic stretching.

I don’t have any suggestions for what else to call it, though. What do you think?

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