Bill Utsey
Have you made the jump from static stretching to dynamic stretching?             
by: Bill Utsey , Director of Athletics, Greenville County Schools, Greenville SC

I remember distinctly the warm-up routines I went through as a young high school athlete. Nothing but lots of ballistic exercises from jumping jacks to mountain climbs to squat thrusts. All, I might add, to the four-count military cadence. When I hit college, in came the static stretching standard that has been the basis for all warm-up routines for many years now.

Now, we have a new, scientifically researched standard that is being promoted as the more effective way to really warm-up and, at the same time, improve power, balance, and flexibility. Welcome to “Dynamic Stretching!” In fact, I just left one of our high school’s summer conditioning sessions where the first activity written on the schedule was “Dynamics.”

We are most fortunate in Greenville, South Carolina, to have as a partner to our sports programs the Steadman Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas. Their team includes the Acceleration Sports Institute (ASI) and Proaxis Therapy. These two companies, like Steadman Hawkins, are national leaders in their respective fields. The last two workshops we had for our coaches included sessions on dynamic stretching presented by the ASI and Proaxis staffs. These were powerful presentations, with actual demonstrations and video clips of dynamic stretching routines. Suffice it to say that all of our teams have embraced these as the basis for their warm-up routines. To watch our teams come out before a game, and start to do exercises that more closely resemble ballet dancers warming up than athletes getting ready for competition, is quite a site.

Dynamic stretching replaces the old static stretching routine of holding each position for ten to thirty seconds for warming up before practices and competitions. Its name, “dynamic,” defines each exercise as requiring some kind of movement. These exercises come with names like “straight-leg march,” “scorpion,” “spider-man walks,” “hand-walks,” “Grouchos” and “butt kicks.” The research on dynamic stretching counters the static method with results showing an increase in overall athletic performance. Many findings indicate that static stretching actually decreases muscle strength (at least temporarily) whereas dynamic stretching increases strength, power, balance and range of motion. Since dynamic exercises require movement, they literally warm the muscles by increasing blood flow significantly.

Our Proaxis partners were big on dynamic stretching, touting its ability to be sport specific, its value in demanding balance and full range of motion movements, and its impact on the core areas of the body in a number of the exercises. One thing is certain, dynamic stretches loosen muscles and tendons and increase the temperature of these tissues significantly before one’s competition. This cannot be said for static stretching. Additionally, many of the dynamic exercises involve several muscle groups at one time (Try the spider-man walk! See video link below to view this exercise.).

Everyone now seems to be doing dynamics as warm-up routines from professional tennis players and golfers to professional football and baseball teams. If I were coaching today, dynamics would be my warm-up standard for my teams. If you are not using these exercises, I encourage you to just watch some of the video demos at the on-line links below. You will see how these exercises will add value to your program and, best of all, are good for kids. However, before you jump into this uniquely different form of exercises, there are some principles and axioms that are recommended. These are:

  • Dynamic stretches are best for warm-up, static stretches better for cool down.
  • A short aerobic warm-up before you begin your dynamics seems best (jogging, rope jumping, etc.)
  • Select exercises that are sport specific. You will notice in your personal research that many of the exercises relate very well to your specific sport’s motor skills. Others can be varied and adapted to make them more sport specific.
  • “Simple to complex” and “Easy to difficult.” Because some of the dynamic exercises require skill, balance, strength, and great ranges of motion, it is recommended that you begin with simple and easy exercises early in the season (or cycle) and move to the more complex and difficult as the athlete progresses in mastering the dynamic exercises.
  • Variety in your practices and workouts is good (aerobic exercise and a combination of dynamic, ballistic, and static stretching).

Do your own research and find out for yourself the value of dynamic stretching. Some of my Google searches in preparing this article included the following (note that some are links to video demos):

  1. Google Videos (2007, March 14) Dynamic Stretching Warm-up Circuit. [On-line], Available:
  2. . Kosses, R. (2009, June 16). Flexible Fitness: There’s a new way to stretch. The Daily News transcript [On-line], Available:
  3. Kovacs, M. (2008, October 31): Stretching: The Truth. The New York Times [On-line], Available:
  4. Reynolds, G. (2008, November 2). Stretching: The Truth. The New York Times [On-line], Available:
  5. Tollison, T. (no date). Dynamic Stretching vs. Static Stretching. [On-line], Available:


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