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Dynamic Warm Up: Top 5 Stretches

Before starting any type of physical activity, it is important to prepare your body through a dynamic warm up. Warming up before activity is not only a great way to physically prepare our bodies for activity, it also allows us to mentally prepare and engage for the work out ahead of us. Additionally, warming up is a great way to help reduce our risk of muscle strains, ligament tearing, as well as reduce joint pain. 

Over the past few years, research show the best way to “warm up” before activity is through a dynamic warm up. This type of warm up is different from traditional static stretches that consist of maintaining a stretch position for 20-30 seconds at a time. A dynamic warm up is done through active movement, taking the body through various range of motion, typically without a static hold time. The purpose of a dynamic warm up is to improve joint range of motion, increase blood flow and wake up the nervous system throughout the body. This type of warm up should be longer than just jogging in place for a few seconds or doing a couple jumping jacks. Consider these tips when designing a dynamic warm up:

  • Create a program from 5 to 15 minutes that mimics movements that are going to be done during the work out.
  • Vary the program from work out to work out to target specific muscle groups to be used during the main workout.
  • Start off slow with shallow movements to start waking up the body and progress into higher impact activity by the time you are ready to start your work out. This allows your heart rate to slowly increase and allows for blood flow, temperature, and oxygen to increase throughout the body. For example, a lower body dynamic warm up could start with some standing toe touch sweeping stretches and work up to jumping jacks. 

To help prevent and reduce injury, dynamic warmups have been shown to improve athletes performance in areas like speed, explosiveness, vertical and long jump distances.  

Below are a list of some dynamic warm up activities that are helpful before a total body workout. All exercises should be performed for at least 30 seconds each:

Basic Dynamic Warm Up:

Toe Touch Sweeping or Toe Kicks: Start standing up tall with your feet wide, reach down towards your right foot holding for a few seconds, then slowly sweep across to the left foot, and return to start position. Repeat, lowering down to the left foot first.   Alternatively, kick one leg straight in front as you reach toward you toe, then repeat other side.

Quad stretch/Heel lift: Stand tall, bend your knee back and grab your foot as you rise up onto your toe. Alternate each side. 

Quad stretch

Arm Huggers: Stand tall with your arms directly out to your side at about 90 degrees, then hug your arms around your body, alternating which arm is on top.

Hugger 1
Hugger 2

Side Lunges: Stand tall, lunge sideways on one leg, keep your front knee and toe in line, then then repeat on the opposite side feeling a stretch in the groin.   

Worlds Greatest Stretch: In a deep lunge with the right leg forward, reach the right arm up to the ceiling. Repeat other side.

Some additional ideas:

Slow High Knees: Stand tall, start slowly marching your knees up towards your chest, slowly move into a deeper range of motion. 

Inch Worm: Start in a standing position, slowly lower yourself down to the ground into a plank position, from here, walk your feet in towards your hands (getting into an inch worm position), try to get your heels as close to the floor as you can, hold for 5 seconds, then walk your hands back out into a plank and repeat.   

Squats: Stand tall with your feet shoulder width apart, with your feet and knees forwards, soften your knees then hinge at your hips sticking your buttocks out behind you like you are sitting in a chair, bend your knees and lower into a squat, only going as deep is comfortable. 

Fast ButtKickers: Stand tall and start slow, bring your heels towards your butt, as you warm up, try picking up the speed into a fast butt kicker so that only 1 foot is on the ground at a time, make sure to stay in a comfortable range. 

Fast High Knees: Stand tall, start marching your knee towards your chest, pick up the speed as you warm up so that only one foot is on the ground at a time. Stay in a comfortable range.  

Lateral Jumps: Stand tall, jump to the side landing on the leg that is going in the same direction ( for example, when jumping to the right you would land on your right leg), try to keep your other foot from touching the ground as you jump to the other side. 

Jumping Jacks: Stand tall, start into a jumping jack bringing your arms straight out to the side and over head at the same time your feet come apart. Make sure to keep your arms as straight as you can. 

Front Jacks: Similar to a jumping jack, this time instead of brining your arms out to the side they with be coming straight out in  front of your body, like you are going to clap your hands. This motion should happen as your feet move apart.   

Ventral Jacks: Similar to a jumping jack, this time instead of your arms coming out to the side, they be coming straight out in front of your, raising them over head with palms down as your feet move apart. 

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Photo by Jeffrey F Lin on Unsplash

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