Do you ever find yourself stiff in the morning? Do you or your peers warm-up or stretch before engaging in physical activity like working out, or yard work? If you’re like me, warm-ups and stretching were always considered underwhelming, boring, and tedious. This all changed when I realized the impact it has had on my body both in the short and long term.
Dynamic stretching is a way to move your joints through a full range of motion, increasing your body temperature and activating your muscles before you engage in physical activity. Evidence indicates that dynamic warm-ups help aid in your immediate physical performance (O’Sullivan, Murray, and Sainsbury, 2009) and help prevent injury. To put it simply, the main goal is to wake up your muscles and warm your body to loosen your joints.
Regardless of your age, or the intensity of physical activity you engage in, the list of dynamic stretches available is plentiful, and stretches can be easily modified to suit your current range of mobility. Examples of easily accessible upper and lower body dynamic stretches are: arm swings and circles, body weight squats, high knees or leg lifts, hip circles and hinges, and jogging or walking on the spot.
Now I know what you might be thinking: How much time do I need to warm up? A proper dynamic stretch should take five to ten minutes (Brown, 2017). This is not a lot of time in the big picture. Dynamic stretching prevents us from injury, even from something as innocent as shovelling snow or raking leaves. Whichever spectrum you fall under regarding your employment, dynamic stretching helps to prevent injury, stiffness, and soreness. Dynamic stretching will enable you to become more flexible and agile and maintain mobility – especially as you age.
On a personal level, I have seen the benefits of proper warming up and stretching. As I have gotten older, I realize that I need to make warming up and dynamic stretching a priority – not only for working out, but also for my job and daily living. Dynamic stretching has increased my flexibility, and I feel the results on a daily basis. In contrast to my old habit of not warming up, my muscles and joints no longer feel stiff as I begin my workout.
Dynamic stretching has gained tremendous popularity and has grown exponentially (Ellerton, 2018). In addition to being someone who trains himself physically, I have also coached basketball for many years. It was only recently that I finally understood the gravity of dynamic warm-ups. Getting feedback from the players I coached was valuable, as they explained how much dynamic warm-ups helped aid in their performance by feeling loose and warm before practices and games. Research shows that dynamic warm-ups are effective for “increasing flexibility, maximal muscle strength, sprint, and vertical jump” (Ellerton, 2018). This proves to be crucial for all who engage in physical activity.
Although physical stretching is important, we as men of God need to be spiritually stretched. When we stretch, we undoubtedly experience some strain and pain. The same applies to our relationship with our Lord and Saviour. When God stretches us, it can be uncomfortable; however, stretching allows us to grow and mature spiritually. When we do not allow God to stretch us, we become complacent and do not grow in spiritual maturity. Hebrews 5:12a says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.”
So how do we allow God to stretch us? By putting our hope and faith in God, knowing that he has our best interest at hand. It is through spending time in scripture, in prayer, and communion with others in Christ, that allows us to be the men God wants us to be. But this doesn’t happen overnight. Our walk with God is a journey.
God sometimes stretches us out of our comfort zone, and with that comes growth. When we choose to trust and obey, we see growth and progress as we flourish in our walk with the Lord. Hebrews 11:6 says, ” It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” So let’s sincerely seek God as we stretch and grow in our faith!