Taking care of your body before and after working out: Dynamic warm-ups and static stretching

Most people understand that it’s good to warm up their body in some way before activity. But conflicting advice and lack of knowledge mean that not everyone knows how to make the most of that warm up time.

Garrett Lachvayder, a physical therapist assistant at Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, a Physiquality member in Arizona, explain three benefits of doing a dynamic warm-up before activity:

  • Increased blood flow to the muscles before activity
  • Increased functional mobility for activity
  • Maximized available flexibility of the entire body prior to exercise
Woman and two men stretching their legs while sitting on a mat at the gym.

Compared to static stretching (more on that below), dynamic warm-ups consist of gentle movement to prepare your body for activity. This allows muscles to slowly gain more blood flow before expecting them to move quickly. It shouldn’t take too long; Garrett suggests planning for 5-15 minutes of dynamic warm-ups before your workout.

In addition, exercises should be targeted to the activity for which you’re preparing. For example, the video below from Pennsylvania Physiquality member Hess Physical Therapy notes that the dynamic warm-up being explained is for runners, which is why the movement is based on the hips, knees and legs. Talk to your physical therapist about the dynamic warm-up exercises that would be best for your activity or sport.

The experts at AIM Rehab Services, a Physiquality member in Florida, note that static stretching after a workout can help your body recuperate after activity. It reduces your chance of pain and injury by loosening up the muscles. It reduces the amount of lactic acid in your muscles, which can cause stiffness later. And it gives your body a chance to wind down gradually before moving on to other things.

Looking for a physical therapist to help you take care of your body before and after your chosen sport? Use our locator below to find a Physiquality PT near you.

Thank you to our contributors:

Physiquality member AIM Rehab Services is in Coral Springs, Florida. Owner Dr. Esaie Aime has more than 16 years of experience treating a variety of orthopedic conditions, as well as neurological conditions and balance and gait issues.

Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy is a Physiquality member with several clinic locations in Arizona. Providers of physical therapy for more than 20 years, their PTs and PTAs deliver hands-on physical therapy with integrity and accountability, ensuring the best possible patient results.

Physiquality member Hess Physical Therapy offers PT at three locations in Pennsylvania. Their clinics specialize in back and neck conditions, sports injuries, work-related injuries, balance and fall prevention, and general orthopedic problems.

The benefits of stretching — especially if you’re at home. Physiquality, May 11, 2020.

Lachvayder, Garrett. How a dynamic warm-up can help you avoid injury. Foothills Sports Medicine Physical Therapy, December 23, 2018.

6 benefits of stretching before and after your workout. AIM Rehab Services.

Hess Physical Therapy. Dynamic warm-up. YouTube, July 1, 2013.

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