But not all stretching is created equal. There's a difference between static and dynamic stretching: Static stretching is when you hold a pose for a set period time, say 15 to 30 seconds. This type of stretching is meant to relax the muscles and lengthen them.
But dynamic stretching is your best bet when it comes to warming up for exercise. Dynamic stretching — think: shoulder rolls — is a type of warm-up where you stretch while moving. It's a middle ground between static stretching and ballistic stretching, where you move explosively.
5 of the Best Dynamic Back Stretches
Warming up your back involves moving your posterior muscles, including your traps and lats, and joints, particularly your spine, in different planes of motion. For example, you should move your muscles and joints forward and back, extending the arms and shoulders, and rotate your upper and lower back.
The back muscles that run parallel along your spine can be stretched with forward and backward bending like the toe touch. The latissimus dorsi (the lats) are the big muscles that run along the sides of your back and can be stretched by using a few different shoulder movements.
Here are five dynamic back stretches to include in your next back workout warm-up. Perform each move for 30 to 45 seconds.
Move 1: Toe Touch Overhead Reach
- Stand tall with your arms overhead and your biceps by your ears.
- Bend forward to touch your toes and stick your butt back. Reach as far down as possible while keeping your knees straight but not locked.
- Slowly stand up tall, reaching your arms back overhead and bending your back slightly.
- Repeat slowly, giving your back time to stretch and warm up.
Move 2: Standing Bicycle
- Stand tall with your hands behind your head and your feet hip-width apart.
- Lift your right knee up and twist your upper body to bring your left elbow to touch your right knee, then rotate your upper body to return to the starting position.
- Next, lift your left knee up and twist your upper body to bring your right elbow to touch your left knee. Rotate your upper body to return to the starting position.
- Continue alternating sides.
Move 3: World's Greatest Stretch
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms by your sides.
- Take a big step forward with your right leg and lower down into a lunge, forming 90-degree angles with your front and back legs.
- Drop your left knee down to the ground and plant your left hand next to your right foot.
- Reach your right arm toward the ceiling and rotate your torso to the right.
- Stand back up and switch sides.
- Continue alternating sides.
Move 4: Dynamic Lat Stretch
- Attach a long and sturdy resistance band to a fixed object slightly higher than shoulder height and stand in front of it so that you're able to grab the band.
- Grab one end of the band with one hand and take a step back to straighten your arm.
- Maintaining a flat back and straight arm, hinge forward at the hips and stick your butt back.
- Turn your upper body toward the arm holding the band and look under it.
- Return back to center.
- Switch arms and continue alternating sides.
Move 5: Active Hang
- Grab onto a pull-up bar with both hands, palms facing forward. Hang your feet off the ground and keep your arms straight.
- Relax and allow your shoulders to rise up.
- Then, pull yourself up slightly while keeping your arms straight by pressing your shoulder blades down your back.
- Relax and allow your shoulders to stretch.