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Stretching is a common technique to help relieve tension in the muscles. It traces back to the ancient Greeks, who recorded stretching as a part of their training routine in the military. The practice of stretching has been studied since then for its numerous health benefits and therapeutic uses. Like the Greeks, modern people tend to stretch before or after exercising as a way of preventing buildup of lactic acid in their muscles and relieving future soreness. Within the simple concept, however, there is a lot of variety. The practice of stretching is built on two main types, static and dynamic stretching. Static is more commonly talked about, but dynamic is loaded with health benefits, uses, and different practices.

So what is dynamic stretching?

Dynamic stretching is the practice of stretching by moving. It practices actively stretching muscles to their full range of motion. Instead of the slow, elongated yoga style stretching, where you hold one pose and lean into it, dynamic stretching involves a lot of motion. Instead of warrior pose, picture a golfer swinging their arms before the game, or a ballerina doing some pirouettes to warm up for a performance. The idea is to start moving your blood and hone in on the movements that serve your body. 

Why should we practice dynamic stretching?

Dynamic stretching has a lot of key benefits. For athletes, the practice of increasing flexibility in the actual movements they will be using in their sport has immense value. It increases effectiveness and cancels out any time you would spend on the court or in the game trying to warm up there. By using the final motions as practice, athletes can identify if they have any soreness or tenderness to be addressed before the real event. This decreases the risk of injury, saves time, and helps promote health in a low stress environment.

But stretching isn’t only for athletes, especially not dynamic stretching. Many non-athletes are active gym goers, which provides a perfect opportunity to make use of the benefits of stretching. Instead of overworking your muscles on a big day, activities like stretching and foam rolling can release tension and prevent any problems that result from working out. Before and after working out is the perfect time to do some dynamic stretching. 

Even every day people who don’t exercise regularly can benefit from dynamic stretching, perhaps even more than anyone. For those who don’t actively keep their body moving in intense aerobic regimens can use the small implementations of the practice. This kind of movement can really help people wake up, keep their energy up, and stay mobile throughout the day. Since the idea is to increase blood flow, doing a few lunges or torso twists in the morning or when you need a break from your desk can be a welcome change of pace. When you do intentional movement like dynamic stretching, it physically warms up your muscles, which allows more oxygen to flow through your body and around different muscles. 

How can I practice dynamic stretching?

One of the best parts of dynamic stretching is that it is actually very easy. All it takes is a few intentional moments throughout the day to get your body moving to reap the benefits of a more active lifestyle. In fact, the most consistent way to keep a habit is by intentionally building some small changes into your everyday routine. That way, even when you don’t feel motivated, you can still hit your goals and the rewarding feeling of success will motivate you to continue to practice the habit. On days when you feel driven, you can go completely overboard with success, but small doses of goals keep ambitions high. When you first wake up, try some shoulder rolls, and when you’re in need of a break at work, take the chance to do a few arm and leg circles. These small actions can have big effects. If you catch yourself feeling more awake and active, don’t be surprised: you’re just another recipient of the many benefits of dynamic stretching.