Dynamic flexibility is the ability to move muscles and joints through their full range of motion during active movement.

Such flexibility helps your body reach its full movement potential during daily activities, sports, and exercise. This improves performance and reduces the risk of injury.

To increase your dynamic flexibility, warm up with exercises that combine stretching and controlled movements. The movements should mimic the activity you’re about to do.

For example, before playing soccer, you’ll want to warm up with leg circles to mimic kicking. By warming up with dynamic exercises, your body will move more effectively during your workout.

Before performing dynamic exercises, do 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio, such as jogging or swimming. This will prepare your muscles for a dynamic warmup.

When you do dynamic exercises, start with a small range of motion and gradually increase it with every rep.

1. Arm circles

This exercise is an excellent warmup for swimming, throwing, or upper-body weight training.

2. Arm swings

Arm swings target the muscles in your upper body, including your shoulders and upper back.

3. Shoulder rolls

Before swimming or throwing, do this stretch to prepare your shoulders.

4. Torso twists

Torso twists are great for increasing spinal mobility. They’ll get your back ready for swimming, running, and throwing.

5. Walking high kicks

Walking high kicks, or toy soldiers, stretch your hamstrings before running or kicking. They also strengthen your hip flexors and quadriceps.

6. Knee-to-chest

The lifting motion of the knee-to-chest uses full hip flexion and stretches the glutes.

7. Butt kicks

This exercise helps to stretch your quads, which prepares your thighs for running.

8. Walking lunges

As you walk and lunge, your hip flexors, hamstrings, and glutes will get a nice stretch.

9. Leg circles

Leg circles warm up your glutes, thighs, and hips. They’re sometimes called hip circles.

10. Ankle rolls

This exercise takes your ankles through their full range of motion, making it ideal before running, hiking, and cycling.

11. Sumo side squats

Sumo side squats prepare your legs by actively stretching your groin muscles.

12. Crawl-out squats

For a full-body dynamic exercise, do crawl-out squats before cardio activity.

During dynamic exercise, your muscles move and stretch at the same time. Depending on the move, a dynamic exercise can make your joints extend or rotate.

Dynamic stretches can also work your joints through side-to-side and full range of motion movements. This helps your joints and muscles move more freely during your workout.

Dynamic exercises have several benefits, including:

  • Warming up muscles. Dynamic stretching increases the temperature of your muscles, which helps them move to their full potential. It also promotes blood flow to ensure enough oxygen reaches your muscles.
  • Increasing nerve activity. Your nerves move muscles by sending electrical signals. By stretching dynamically, your nerves send the appropriate signals before your workout begins. This trains your nerves and muscles to work together more efficiently.
  • Using full range of motion. Many cardio workouts, like running and walking, use minimal ranges of motion. They’re also done in one plane of movement, since you’re moving straight ahead. Dynamic exercises involve more complete motions, which better engage your muscles.
  • Decreasing injury risk. Dynamic stretching increases joint and muscle mobility which may help prevent injury. In a recent study, dynamic hamstring exercises reduced passive stiffness and increased range of motion in the hamstrings. These factors are associated with a lower risk of hamstring injury, one of the most common exercise injuries.

The difference between dynamic and static stretching is movement. Dynamic stretches move the muscle that’s being stretched. Typically, each movement is held for only a second or two.

Static stretching involves extending your muscle until you feel tension, and holding it for 15 to 60 seconds. Unlike dynamic stretching, it doesn’t include fluid movement. Examples of static stretching include a butterfly stretch and hamstring stretch.

Static stretching may help lengthen muscle, which is ideal for achieving optimal flexibility.

Dynamic exercises move your muscles and joints through a large range of motion. These stretches involve continuous movement, which prepares your body for activity.

This enhances performance and decreases injury risk by improving blood flow to the muscles. To incorporate dynamic exercises into your warmup, choose stretches that simulate the activity you’re about to do.

Talk to your doctor before trying a new exercise. A personal trainer can also show you how to safely stretch and warm up before a workout.