What exactly is dynamic stretching, other than some fad circulating from the depths of the internet? Dynamic stretching is the combination of stretching and movement. In other words, rather than holding one position for 10-30 seconds, as you would for a static stretch, you move through a range of motion using both muscular control and momentum.
Here’s an example:
Now, before you dismiss this article because you are a climber and because stretching and mobility work does not particularly interest you, here’s why you should put in the extra 10 minutes before your session:
- Injury prevention. Because dynamic stretching increases muscle temperature, it serves as a better warm-up than static stretching. Stretching cold muscles is dangerous, ineffective, and has been shown to temporarily decrease explosive strength by 7-10%.
- Improved performance. Dynamic stretching increases reach, range of motion, and speed. It is also more specific to climbing than static stretching, since you are generally in motion while on the wall. Big throws and lock-offs will feel a heck of a lot better after a proper warm-up.
Still not convinced? Perhaps a recap of my own climbing career will do the trick. I started climbing fairly young, in 7th grade, when I knew next to nothing about technique, training, and warming up. My primary experience came from gymnastics, and while that was a good baseline, I never understood why we did the stretches we did, and never put the time into learning.
At the same time I was pushing my limits in both climbing and powerlifting, which, unsurprisingly, resulted in injury after injury. I’ve had everything from minor finger tweaks to tendonitis, rotator cuff strains, and SI joint problems that left me sidelined for several months. And, after focusing on mobility and dynamic stretching for the past year, I truly believe that most of these could have been prevented. That’s almost an entire year I could have been climbing had I not been injured. To think, I could have been climbing V16 by now (-:
If all this doesn’t sell you on dynamic stretching, just think about the last injury you had and imagine how much easier life could have been. Hopefully this is convincing enough and you are now 100% aboard the internet fad that is dynamic stretching. If you are, here are a bunch of stretches you can incorporate into your routine. Do each stretch for 5-10 reps; it won’t take longer than 10 minutes!
Free Body Exercises