Dynamic stretches after exercise is very important, not only to prevent muscle soreness the next day but to also allow the muscles to realign and not remain tight following exertion. However, you should also use dynamic stretches even without doing any physical activity writes guest contributer and Brighton based personal trainer, Lucy Howlett.
Due to everyday activities; be it standing, sitting for long periods or lifting things regularly, your body will develop areas of tension. This is simply the body’s way of supporting itself, with certain muscles coming into play time after time, becoming shorter and tighter. Your muscles will stay this way unless they’re seen to with some simple dynamic stretches. Further help can be sought from the medical practitioners at Sundial and through classes like yoga, which is fantastic for lengthening muscles, improving flexibility and posture.
To prevent a build up of tension and its visible effects (hunched shoulders, rounded back, neck jutting forwards, short stride length in gait), it is useful to try and integrate some movements that are key to re-aligning the body to optimal posture as well as comfort.
If you are sitting for a long periods of time your hip flexors are prone to becoming tight. This tension can alter your posture and affect your gait, which in turn may lead to injury or pain.
Dynamic stretches to improve posture
Lunge forwards with your left foot in front, allowing both knees to form a right angle and reaching up as high as you can with your right arm (without raising your shoulders). Then step back to a neutral standing position. Repeat this 15-20 times, or until you feel looser at the hip joint. Now change sides. NOTE: To increase the stretch sensation, add a rotation in your torso either towards or away from the front leg. Take care however, as it can have quite a dramatic effect.
Another common complaint, in sportsmen particularly, is tight hamstrings. Instead of the usual static hold you may already know, we will add some movement to allow maximum benefit. Step your left foot backwards leaving the right foot to rock onto the heel, then take your hips back while reaching forwards (towards your toes or out ahead of you). Now step back to a standing position and repeat. Imagine someone is pulling your hips backwards and your hands forwards to get the best stretch!
This dynamic form of stretching is far more beneficial in the long term than the static type; the muscles are naturally stretched in two or three planes of motion so as to trigger contraction back to a position of least effort/tension — we call it centre: you currently know it as neutral.
To support this increased flexibility you should work on your core strength to allow the spine to align well in accordance with the surrounding muscles. Core stability is important to everyone, active or not; it can help to prevent back pain and to have greater control over your stomach muscles, achieving a slimmer and more toned appearance. As well as abs exercises, make sure you work your back and do some twisting movements to encompass all planes of motion that the body goes through.
Through doing these exercises, you should feel a lot less restricted in the lower body and perhaps your upper body as well. Practice daily for maximum results; it may improve your posture, when static or walking, as well as alleviating any niggling pain you have had. These are some of the benefits of dynamic stretching. I hope you enjoy using them!
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