Hi Keir, I am a rugby player and a trainee S & C coach at the moment. At the end of each of my sessions, I carry out developmental stretches on my lats, hamstrings, quads, adductors, and hip flexors (ie. 15 second hold, relax 15 second hold further x4). If I was to incorporate a more dynamic stretching routine, would it be better to complete it after my static stretches or to just replace mine, in your opinion?
I think the answer to this lies in what kind of changes or flexibility you are trying to develop: fasical, muscular, capsular, neural, other sliding surfaces? Or are you trying to manipulate the nervous system into giving you a little extra range for the up-coming session, without sacrificing a ton of time, strength or power?
Certainly I like the shorter, more dynamic stuff during the warm up. My biggest goal during this period is tissue temperature as it serves range of movement, force and speed expression and helps to reduce risk of injury. However in my experience these types of movement are the neural “quick fixes” I described above. You’ll get a benefit for the session, but nothing long term.
For long term increases in flexibility and mobility, where you are actually creating structural rather than just neural changes, I prefer longer soft tissue and stretching techniques. Foam rolling, trigger point work, banded traction, capsule stretching, Grastons/ART if you can get it and PNF stretching are all methods that I like and feel provide longer term improvements in flexibility. I think it’s a good idea to schedule these as a separate session as they can take a while (research suggests a minimum of 2 minutes continuous soft tissue work is needed for structural change).
However if you are short on time (everyone is!), you can combine the two methods. Either put the longer, slower stuff earlier in the warm up, then transition to dynamic movements, or include deeper, more intense stretches between sets of max effort lifting. We know from research that at 85% or higher of 1RM, you need between 3-5 minutes rest to maintain power output, which fits nicely as you can fit in 2 minutes of work on each side, take a minute for a drink and a few breaths, then jump back in to your next set. Make sure if you choose this method that you are stretching non-competing areas of the body i.e. shoulder work if you are squatting, hip work if you are benching etc.