Oct 7, 2016
Dynamic Stretching
Rich Zawack

As a coach, one of your primary responsibilities should be the safety of your athletes. Because injury prevention is a high priority, coaches should put a good deal of emphasis on warm up and flexibility.

One of the best ways to prevent injury is to prepare the body for the practice or for competition.

Range of motion (ROM) should be a priority. Range of motion refers to the ability of the athlete to reach full extension of a joint and its supporting musculature. This requires a stretching program.

Every sport is a little bit different. A wrestler, for example, needs full range of motion in his upper body in ways a sprinter would never require.

As I discussed in an earlier blog, ROM requires static stretching, which should be done after practice. I cannot emphasize enough that a coach needs to think about his or her sport and what is required in terms of flexibility.

Once ROM is set and practiced to create muscle memory, a second type of stretching comes into play — dynamic stretching.

Dynamic stretching is movement to prepare the athlete for practice or competition. It is based upon already established range of motion. The athlete stretches the body but does not hold the position. He or she takes their body to tolerable limits, repeating the same movement many times.

A good example is a runner doing a high knee drill over a 25-yard distance. The repetitive movement increases circulation. It activates full range of motion.

Dynamic stretching warms the body. It can be used to reach full range of motion. This is an activation process. The body begins to pump blood, circulation increases and so does flexibility.

The range of motion that has been ingrained in the body is activated. This is a form of muscle memory. The body goes to its programmed flexibility limits.

Dynamic warm ups do this without activating the Golgi tendon. In other words, the body is loose. It has range but still maintains its explosiveness. Its ability to create force is not mitigated by neurology. This type of preparation is optimal for high performance.

Static stretching would interfere with performance. Dynamic stretching does not interfere with performance.

The athlete is warmed up within the limits of his training.

This allows the athlete to maximize effort and stay away from injury.

The scenario depends on the coach and his or her understanding of the range of motion muscles of the athlete and their sport. All coaches should consider ROM as a key characteristic of high performance.

ROM training can accomplish multiple goals. It can prevent injury, prepare the athlete for practice and competition, and speed recovery, making future efforts more successful.

Rich Zawack, BS, MA, CSCS-D, has served as president of Athletic Development Corporation for the last 10 years. Prior to that he was a high school teacher and coach for 36 years at Strongsville (Ohio) High School. He has coached 17 state champions, one NCAA champion, 18 NFL football players, and one NBA basketball player.

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