The Science of Stretching for Young Athletes- Part 2: Dynamic Stretching

By Thomas Henry, MS, CSCS, SCCC

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach, Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton, CA

In last week???s post we had an opportunity to discuss the benefits of static stretching for the young athlete.?? In today???s post Thomas Henry discusses dynamic stretching.?? ??? Dev Mishra, M.D., President, Sideline Sports Doc

Q: Tell us a bit about dynamic stretching (which involves movement of the joint)- what is it and when is it done?

A: Dynamic stretching entails actively taking the joint through a full range of motion.?? When a joint is actively passed through the full range of motion there is a principle called??reciprocal inhibition??in which the activation of one muscle group inhibits the activation of another.???? Dynamic stretching is typically the preferred method for movement preparation preceding conditioning training because it activates and elongates skeletal muscle through reciprocal inhibition, increases heart rate, moves blood to the periphery providing nutrients to muscles and helps clear waste products.?? Dynamic stretching can be general as in lateral leg swings to loosen the hips (adductor and abductor groups) or specific as in performing multi-planar walking lunges targeting similar muscle groups prior to practices and competitions involving running.

Dynamic stretching is most effective immediately before physical activity. ??Dynamic stretching can be done by itself prior to a conditioning session or as the last component of a warm-up routine that incorporates static stretching as the first modality.


Here are some general guidelines for dynamic stretching that can be useful in most sports and age groups:

There are many, many different types of dynamic stretches.?? Coaches of different sports will have their favorites for their sport, so what is outlined here is a very general guideline:

    1. Straight leg marching- for hamstrings and glutes
    2. Butt-kicks- for quadriceps
    3. Forward shuffle with hip rotation- for groin/adductors
    4. Scorpion cross-over stretch lying on your back- for lower back and hip abductors
    5. Handwalks- for shoulders, core abdominals
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One Response to The Science of Stretching for Young Athletes- Part 2: Dynamic Stretching

  1. Jodi Murphy says:

    It sounds like every athlete should incorporate dynamic stretching into their warmup routine. Too often stretching is rushed and, making it rather pointless. Dynamic stretching gets you moving sooner.

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