Dynamic stretching exercises are a form of active movement that takes you through a whole range of motion to reach a stretch. They prepare you for a sporting activity by activating your muscles and ligaments.
Unlike static stretching, which requires you to hold you body at the end position of a stretch, dynamic stretching is, as the name described it, a movement-based type of stretching.
A dynamic stretching exercise that is relevant to the activity you’re about to do activates the neuromuscular pathways required for your activity – which simply means it gets your body ready to perform at its best in the sport you’re about to do.
Dynamic stretching is good for:
- Increasing your body’s core temperature
- Preparing you to handle the intensity of the workout
- Improving mobility
- Enhancing flexibility
- Helping you stay injury free (through the above two benefits)
Dynamic stretching exercises move you through the entire range of motion of an exercise or position and push you a little bit, instead of holding you at the extreme end of a position or stretch.
Stretching should compliment your sport, so if flexibility is something you need in your upcoming activity – think ankle mobility for an overhead lift or shoulder mobility for a muscle up or handstand push-up – then stretching before your workout can set you up for success.
“Generally, you want to stretch in a warm-up to establish safe, effective range of motion for the ensuing activity,” reads the CrossFit Level 1 Training Guide.
This is because a limited range of motion can cause bad technique and ultimately lead to injuries. Think about the movement requirements for your sport and use stretching to prepare for them.
In CrossFit for example, possessing a full range of motion in your joins is essential because athletes are required to keep control of internal and external loads – by performing weightlifting and gymnastics exercises – and do so with the right technique to prevent injuries.
Benefits of dynamic stretching exercises
Without good mobility it becomes impossible to perform certain movements correctly. In turn, this leads to the inability to perform exercises efficiently, expending more energy than necessary, and exposing yourself to bad positions that could lead to injury.
A thruster, for example, is extremely difficult if you can’t squat properly, rack properly and struggle with overhead mobility.
Dynamic stretching exercises are beneficial to perform before CrossFit workouts because they:
- Activate the neuromuscular pathways required to perform movements
- Increase your range of movement gradually
- Increase blood and oxygen flow to your muscles, tendons and ligaments before they are taxed by your workout
Pre-activity dynamic movements are a great way to get ready for exercise and, in some instances, can be more appropriate than static stretches. A 2006 study found that a dynamic warmup improved power and agility performance over a static warmup , while a 2011 study concluded that “Athletes in sports requiring lower-extremity power should use DS [dynamic stretching] techniques in warm-up to enhance flexibility while improving performance.” 
In short: dynamic stretching exercises progressively get your muscles and joints used to the ranges of motion and movement patterns you’ll encounter during your workout, helping you prepare for it and perform better.
For this very reason, your dynamic warm-up should be specific to the activity you’re about to perform. Have a look at the following dynamic stretching exercises and include them in your training where appropriate.
5 Dynamic Stretching Exercises for CrossFit and Strength Sports
Dynamic stretching exercises are usually conformed of bodyweight movements incorporating a certain degree of flexibility, strength and range of motion (the amount of movement around a specific joint or body part).
Include these in your warm-up routine.
1. Lunge walk and leg swing
These are great movements to open your hips and activate your hamstrings.
The lunge walk and leg swing can be helpful to perform before workouts that include:
- Board Jumps
- Walking Lunges
- Box Jumps
How to do it: To perform this exercise start standing straight with your feet hip width apart. Kick your right foot forward and backward like a pendulum. Make sure you don’t arch your back too much and only go as high as feels comfortable – the warmer your muscles are the higher you’ll be able to go.
Once you’ve performed about three swings, use the forward momentum to do a big step, finishing in a lunge. Bring your feet back together and repeat the process with your left leg.