Warming up before exercise or sport is done to prepare your body for the weighted lifts, intense running and sporting activity to come. It’s most important for sports because the movements that you make on, say, the football pitch are normally explosive and unpredictable. Think about it…
You’re kicking the football, running with it and dribbling past players, forced to intervene and intercept, make tackles, jump high to perform headers and that’s just the general aesthetics. Your body needs to be limber and ready, your muscles active, flexible and mobile.
So, warming up is a crucial component in preparing to compete and challenge your body. It also lowers your chance of picking up an injury and you don’t have to spend as much time getting in the zone, for lack of a better term.
How We’ve Been Taught To Warm Up
Static stretching is normally what a lot of us were taught to do during physical education classes and sports.
The movements involve:
Holding the pose for 10 to 20 seconds and you’re ready to go, but this might not actually be the best way to warm up.
Studies have shown that these stretches might not actually be the best way to prepare for exercise. They can also lead to lower performance levels in terms of lifting weights. However, it has been suggested to do these sort of stretches after sports and/or training.
How Else You Could Be Warming Up?
There has been a new trend emerging that brings about the required flexibility and mobility that you need and it’s called dynamic stretching.
Dynamic stretching can be thought of as sports movement and are perfect for a full body warm up.
It activates the muscles that are going to be used as lunging and twisting is what you’ll be doing when on the sports field. So it improves your range of motion and limbers you up.
Not only does it increase your heart rate, body temperature and blood flow, but it challenges your balance and coordination, which is intrinsic to properly preparing you for high intensity running, jumping, kicking and catching.
So, dynamic stretching can help enhance your muscular performance and power as you are athletically prepared for your workout.
You can even up the intensity of the stretches by incorporating a Pilates ball and resistance bands, just remember not to stop and hold the stretch as those are better left for the post-workout warm down.
Sports are also often erratic and unpredictable but now you’ll be conditioned to deal with anything, lowering your risk of injury.
What Are Dynamic Stretches?
You can do the following exercises to complete the dynamic stretch for your entire body:
Lunge and twist:
Keeping your left leg straight, lunge forward with your right and bend your knee, completing a lunge. Then twist your body to the left and return to your starting position. Repeat the exercise for the opposite side and complete a set of 10 reps.
Hip circles and twist:
With your hands planted on your hips, rotate hips in a circular movement. After completing a few circles, keep your hands on your hips and twist your body from one side to the other.
Side lunge touching:
Perform a side lunge to the right hand side and touch your right foot with your hands. Repeat on the opposite side and complete a set of 10 reps.
This one’s a little more challenging but it’s an amazing stretch. Perform a normal push-up and as you complete it raise your right hand up so that your body is in a T-shape. Repeat on the opposite side and complete a set of 10 reps.
You can do this one standing up or sitting down. It’s like touching your toes but in a swift movement. Keep your legs straight and lower your upper body with arms outstretched to reach your toes. If you haven’t done it before it’ll take some time but you’ll be surprised by how regularly performing it will make a flexible like a gymnast.
This is an easier one. With arms outstretched at your side, rotate your body from left to right. Repeat the movement for 10 reps.
From a standing position, kick as high as you can and bring your leg to rest. Repeat on the opposite side and do 10 reps for each leg.
Knee to chest:
Lying on your back, bring one knee up towards your chest and lower it back down. Repeat the process and complete 10 reps for each leg.
This is a plyometric exercise that is training on its own. From a standing position, lower yourself down in a squat then jump straight up in the air, not too high, and come back down into the squat. Repeat for as many reps as you can manage. We recommend getting to 100!
Full back stretch roll:
Foam rolling is included in warm ups to break down scar tissue and improve mobility. Lie with your back on the foam roller and slide up and down on it. You’ll feel more limber and any tightness will be eliminated.
Abdominal stretch on ball:
Using a stability ball, lie with your back on the ball and stretch out fully, arms outstretched and over your head. If you have a kitten, then you’ll know exactly how this looks.
Hamstring stretch with band:
Lying on your back with your legs straight, place the resistance band underneath your foot and stretch it towards your chest. Then, raise your leg and repeat on the opposite leg for 10 reps each.