Dynamic Stretching to Warm-up and Avoid Injury

Dynamic Stretching

Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching that involves continuous movement, unlike static stretching where you hold the stretch at a point of discomfort.

It is the preferred stretching method prior to your workout, physical activity, or sporting activity.

It is the most effective warm-up method to avoid injury or muscle strain, since your muscles will be cold when starting warm-up, and you will not be maximizing your stretch as with static stretching. (1)

Table of Contents

Dynamic Stretching prior to your workout is the best way to avoid a workout injury.

Dynamic Stretching to Warm Your Muscles

This form of stretching will help you to warm-up your muscles, increase your blood flow, and loosen your joints. These stretches are best performed when you stretch the entire body:

  • Arms
  • Shoulders
  • Elbows
  • Wrists
  • Legs
  • Torso
  • Head/Neck

Dynamic stretches are also known as “sport-specific” stretches, as they simulate the exercise or sport you are preparing to perform.  For instance, if you’re going to be doing a workout that includes bench press for the chest muscles, then simulate this movement doing a standing bench press with my arms.

Benefits of Stretching Dynamically

These stretches are best performed pre-workout, as it is an excellent way to prepare your muscles for intense activity or resistance training.

Dynamic Stretching RoutinesThe benefits of are as follows:

  • Increase blood flow and circulation
  • Improve Flexibility
  • Elevate muscle temperature – Key to avoiding injury, as your muscles are more elastic when warm, and more stiff and rigid when cold.
  • Very safe with a low risk of injury and muscle strain – just make sure movements are generally slow, controlled, and rhythmic.
  • Can be performed in a shorter time than static stretching

Dynamic Stretching Routine

Stretching ExerciseThe stretches below in quick succession are simple, basic stretches that will fully prepare you for your workout routines or any physical activity.  Follow them correctly in the order listed one after the other, and your risk of muscle strain or injury is greatly reduced. You can go through the entire routine in 1 to 2 minutes.

  • 1 minute light cardio – hopping in place
  • Elbow Rotations
  • Wrist Rotations (horizontal and vertical)
  • Arm Rotations (left arm, then right arm)
    Reverse direction halfway through
  • Arm Swings (both arms, front to back)
  • Neck Rotations
  • Neck Rolls
  • Shoulder Rotations
  • Torso Rotations
  • Back Stretch
  • Knee to Chest Lifts
  • Leg Swings
  • Side Bends (Arms up in the air)
  • Squats

Performing the stretches above will ensure that you achieve a complete warm-up and are ready to attack your chosen workout. If you do these dynamic stretches prior to your workout, you will virtually eliminate the chance of injury!

Your muscles will be warm, stretched, and motivated…let ’em go!

Stretching and Warm-up Summary

An effective blueprint for a workout routine, from pre-workout through the post-workout cool-down, covers the following 4 routines:

  1. Light cardio to warm-up (jog/hop in place) – 1 minute
  2. Dynamic stretching – 1-2 minutes
  3. Main Workout – Varies depending on the physical activity
  4. Static Stretching (Cool down) – 1 to 2 minutes

Finally, always remember the golden rules of stretching: (2)

  • Always maintain good posture
  • Focus on proper breathing – slow, deep breaths provide more oxygen to your blood which in turn provides more oxygen to your muscles (inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth)
  • Never jerk or bounce  – Stretch should be a controlled movement
  • Only start a stretching routine when your muscles are warmed up (2 minutes of light cardio)

Dynamic stretching prior to your workout is the very best way to avoid injury. It takes an extra few minutes, but is well worth it.

Click to see more stretching routines.

Picture of David Williams

David Williams

A diet and fitness enthusiast, David is an ex-Army Airborne Ranger and Infantry soldier with decades of fitness and wellness experience. A West Point graduate with a degree in engineering, he focuses on technical research related to fitness, nutrition, and wellness. He loves the beach and working out, and spending time with his wife and daughters.

See All Posts


  1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, September 1). Muscle strains. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/muscle-strains/symptoms-causes/syc-20450507#:~:text=A%20muscle%20strain%20is%20an,complete%20tears%20in%20these%20tissues.
  2. Learn when and how to stretch effectively. Human Kinetics. (n.d.). https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/learn-when-and-how-to-stretch-effectively

Click to see our medical disclosure.