It’s important to warm-up before any workout. Dynamic stretching is an excellent way to warm-up. It involves controlled, full-range movement. When done correctly, dynamic stretching improves flexibility, lubricates the joints, and even prepares the nervous system by telling the body it’s time to move.
Warming-up is essential regardless of your exercise experience and physical ability. It sets the foundation for an effective and safe workout by preparing the body for exercise and reducing the risk of injury. Here are dynamic stretches for both upper-or-lower-body workouts:
Beginning with the neck, slowly roll your head in one direction (clockwise) and repeat in the opposite direction (counterclockwise). Then, slowly roll your shoulders forward and backward with arms at your sides. Raise your arms to a “T” and perform circles each way. Rotate in both directions at least 10 times. This will help warm-up muscles and promote the release of synovial fluid to, quite literally, lubricate the joints.
Upward dog and downward dog
Obtain a push-up position with hands and feet on the ground. Sink your hips so that your knees are slightly off the ground while keeping your arms extended and chest high, looking at the sky. You should form an arch in this position. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Then, lift your hips up and back by bringing your head in-between your shoulders while also pressing your heels towards the ground. You should form an arch in the opposite direction. Hold for 5-10 seconds before repeating these movements 3 times. Together, these will stretch the shoulders, hamstrings and mid-section including the back.
Wall shoulder slides
Sit with your back flat against the wall. Raise both arms to form a “Y.” Make sure your entire forearm keeps in contact with the wall as you slowly slide your arms up and down as far as possible. Repeat 10 times. This will help stretch the chest and both shoulders equally. This can also be performed lying face-up on the ground. Remember to control your breathing for each dynamic movement.
Place your hands on your hips and rotate in both directions. Then, place your hands on your slightly bent knees and make small circles. Rotate at least 10 times each.
Lunging torso twists
Take a larger than normal step forward and lower the back knee towards the ground. With or without your knee on the ground, sink your hips forward while keeping your front heel in contact with the ground. Here, you should be in a deep lunge position. Slowly twist your upper-body in the direction of your front leg and back to facing forward. Step out of the lunge to repeat on the opposite side. Perform 6-8 total lunges. This is an excellent stretch for the hip-flexors.
Hamstring stretch-to-overhead squat
Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart, angled slightly outward. Keeping your legs straight, slowly bend down towards your feet to stretch the hamstrings. From there, gradually lower your hips by bending your knees. Keep your knees outside of your arms and don’t let your heels raise off the ground. You should be in a squat position at the lowest point. Carefully raise your arms overhead and extend the knees to return to standing. Repeat 5 times.
—Submitted by Frankie R., Lipscomb University