Active Stretching Choreography

Tuesday, December 14 2021

Active stretching is movement that promotes muscular flexibility and joint range of motion (ROM).  Static stretching is not always possible in a chilly pool. This 20-minute dynamic stretch routine can be used as an extended cooldown in a cooler pool, or as gentle movement in an arthritis or older adult program.   

This active stretching routine was inspired by my need to pair up another express video with Katy’s 10-minute Cold Water Warm-Up.  The videos in the Express category are shorter in duration.  Therefore, I try to post two express videos to make up for one full-length video.  The goal was to create an active stretch routine for cool downs to compliment the warm-up video.  This routine can absolutely be used as an extended cool down to keep class participants warm in a chilly pool.  However, I decided to change the name because I didn’t want Fitmotivation subscribers thinking that this routine could only be used in cool downs.  This 20-minutes of dynamic stretching can be inserted in any water fitness class format when you want to treat your students to some extra feel-good flexibility training.   

Recommended Water Temperature
It goes without saying that water exercise class participants don’t like exercising in cold water.  Not only is it miserable, but it can cause injury due to insufficient thermal warming of the musculoskeletal system.  According to protocols put forth by the Aquatic Exercise Association (AEA), a water temperature of 83 -86 degrees Fahrenheit (28.3 -30 degrees Celsius) is recommended for most water fitness formats.  Instructors should select appropriate class activities based on water temperature.  HIIT would be perfect for a chilly pool. Yoga would not.  Adjustments will need to be made for a cooler pool.  Water fitness instructors should consider doing an extended warm-up with high energy movement, as seen in the video, Cold Water Warm-up.  Likewise, the cool down needs to be adjusted if the water temperature is below recommended guidelines.  Rather than shortening the stretching segment and depriving your class participants of much needed flexibility training, consider doing active stretching rather than static stretching. 

Holding Stretches vs Moving Stretches
Performing a static stretch requires holding the stretch for a period of time.  Static stretching is usually done at the end of class and this is what most people think of when they think of flexibility training.  Active stretching is achieved through movement at the joint.  Muscles are attached to joints, and as the joint is moved through its full ROM in a slower, controlled cadence, flexibility is promoted in a dynamic fashion.  Improvements in both muscular flexibility and joint ROM can be achieved by both active and static stretching.  Flexibility is one of the five essential components of physical fitness, along with Body Composition, Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Muscular Endurance and Muscular Strength. A lack of flexibility can lead to compromised movement, chronic pain and ultimately disability and loss of independence.  Watch Mark talk about dynamic stretching and some instructional advice. 

Instructional Insights
This 20-minute routine features 8 sequences.  Each sequence includes one movement that is first taught with movement at half-water tempo and is then taught at cadence with a movement in three (single-single-hold).  The hold allows for brief interludes of static stretching. This active stretching routine is taught with the add-on methodology of instruction.  For the past 25 years I have taught group fitness to older adults and I discovered that they liked the add-on method of instruction because moves were repeated in a cyclical fashion.  This repetition creates predictable patterning that helps class participants identify upcoming moves, which creates a more confident and enjoyable fitness experience.  Moreover, the add-on method of instruction allows students to improve form through repetition, thus providing better fitness results. 

Music used in video
The music used in this video was Classical Strength (120 bpm), which is in Power Music's Virtual Music Category and available to download for $14.95.

Flexibility in Motion is another edition to the express category of Fitmotivation videos. Let us know if you like these shorter routines?  And stay tuned, big changes are coming to Fitmotivation in the first quarter of 2022. 


Author: Mark Grevelding is the founder of Fitmotivation. He is also a training specialist and consultant with the Aquatic Exercise Association’s (AEA). Mark has been active in the fitness industry for 22 years as a group fitness instructor, personal trainer, international presenter and a continuing education provider for AEA, AFAA & ACE.