Neuromuscular Activation and Dynamic Stretching

Happy Daylight Savings! I’m kind of kidding here. I look forward to “springing forward,” but it also seems to mess things up for a few days. But in a day or two, your body is back to normal. Flying across country East Coast to West Coast and West Coast to East Coast is definitely a bit tougher on your body. Maybe I’ll do a post on how to best survive jet lag, especially from a destination race standpoint. But today I want to touch on Neuromuscular Activation (NMA) and Dynamic Stretching.

So what are neuromuscular activation and dynamic stretching?

Neuromuscular Activation (NMA):

* I copied and pasted this from one of my word documents and I can’t seem to get the font exactly correct on this

  • The communication between the nervous system and the muscular system, or the neural recruitment of muscle groups in a sequential order that is key to injury prevention and optimal performance
  • By replicating the same movement pattern as the activity you are about to engage in, you are priming yourself for exercise.
  • Specific movement patterns leads to greater amounts of force and power produced
  • Move from easier exercises to more complex exercises-spend 5 min on NMA prior to exercise
  • You’ll want to do 2-3 sets of each exercise of at least 10sec each

Dynamic Stretching:

  • Is stretching with movement of the muscles and the joints in the specific manner in which you are about to engage in exercise vs static stretching which is where you bring a muscle to its end point and hold it in a stretch for 20+ seconds.
  • Increases range of motion, blood and oxygen flow to the muscles
  • 20-60 sec per exercise
  • Do not use jerky movements or stretch beyond what your body wants to move in though

What’s wrong with Static Stretching and should you ever do it?

Static stretching has been found to decrease power and force if done before exercise and it has been shown to promote instability at the joint. This in turn can lead to injury. That sounds scary, but it still has benefits post exercise. After you’ve finished a workout, static stretching will help to lengthen your muscles (that were tightened during exercise) and even improve balance and relief stress.

Without realizing it, I started doing nma and dynamic stretching while growing up swimming. For the swimmers out there, remember arm circles, using swim bands prior to practice or meets or even the vasa trainer. I personally think that these can help any exercise that you participate in, but in a sport like running where there are so many injuries, I would say to try these prior to running. Since I still have a torn hamstring/injured sciatic nerve, I recruited my husband to be the demonstrator for me. Thank you Brett! We went to the park down the road to do both nma and dynamic stretching, in the order that I would like runners to go in, and with pretty good form 🙂

NMA #1, Balance and Hip/Glue engagement

NMA #1, Balance and Hip/Glute engagement


High Knees/Skipping

NMA #2 High Knees/Skipping

NMA#3, Butt Kicks

NMA#3, Butt Kicks

Dynamic Stretching #1, Front Leg Swings

Dynamic Stretching #1, Front Leg Swings


Dynamic Stretching #2, Side Leg Swings

Dynamic Stretching #2, Side Leg Swings

Dynamic Stretching #3, Soldier kicks with reach

Dynamic Stretching #3, Soldier kicks with reach and calf raise

Dynamic Stretching #4, Walking Lunges

Dynamic Stretching #4, Walking Lunges

Dynaminc Stretching #5, Walking Quad stretch with calf raise

Dynaminc Stretching #5, Walking Quad stretch with calf raise

More specific directions:

1. NMA #1-balance and hip glute engagement. Balance on one leg and lift your leg up to parallel. Hold for 5 seconds, then push the leg back into extension, engage the glute and hold for another 5 seconds.

2. NMA #2-High Knees or Skipping. Walk either lifting up your knees or skip, driving the knees up.

3. NMA #3-Butt kicks. Kick your feet up towards your glutes, engaging your hamstrings, gastrocnemius and glutes.

4. DS #1-Front leg swings-You can hold onto something if you need to, and swing your leg forward and backward engaging the hip flexors and glutes.

5. DS#2-Side leg swings-Crossing your leg in front of your body, kick your leg out to the side, then back across your body

6. DS#3-Soldier kicks-Raise up on your toe to engage your gastroc, and kick your leg forward reaching out with your hand towards your foot.

7. DS#4-Walking lunges-While walking, perform lunges making sure to keep your knees back over your ankle. You can also add a butt kick or and overexagerrated step out to further engage the glutes and hip flexors

8. DS#5-Walking quad stretch with calf raise-Raise up on your toe, and reach back and grab onto your foot/ankle and bring heel up towards your glute. Keep knees in alignment.

You can also youtube or google other NMA and DS. And next time you go out for a run, try these and see how you feel. You might not feel any different right away, but you’ll find you will have better workouts and races over time. You might be embarrassed to these, but please don’t be. Once you realize the benefits, you’ll realize that there is nothing to be embarrassed about.


  • By Linda D'Antonio - on

    This NMA and DS routine is excellent! While I was reading your post, I realized my hamstrings were feeling tight, so I decided to just try the exercises right then, and it worked great! Thanks Coach Tina!

  • By fueledandfocused - on

    You’re welcome! Let me know if you have any questions about the exercises. Maybe next time I’ll try to put videos on instead of still shots. That way you can see the whole movement. And I love these, they have really helped my running and my athletes running.

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