By Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT
Dynamic stretching is a phenomenal way to warm up your body before exercise. Unlike stretching in place, which may not warm up your body effectively and may decrease explosive power and strength, dynamic stretching takes the body through stretches in motion that can help improve your muscular power and performance and range of motion.
So what is the best dynamic stretch you should always do before any workout? There is no best stretch for everyone, but the following stretch is particularly effective. Ideally, this dynamic stretch will be one of a handful you go through as part of your warm up routine. As with trying any new exercise, be careful and consider the supervision of an exercise professional.
Here are some of the benefits you may get with just this one stretch:
- Engage your core
- Stretch your hamstrings and calves
- Stretch your hips
- Relax your shoulders
- Prepare your body for the workout ahead
The following are instructions to perform this stretch with proper form and technique:
Step 1: Push Up Position
The first part of the exercise starts off in the push up position. Your shoulders should be positioned away from your ears, with your back and hips flat, core and abs engaged. Your hands should be underneath your shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder width apart.
Step 2: Step Your Left Foot Up To Your Left Hand
The next step is to bring your left foot up to your left hand without raising your hips. You will feel a great stretch in your groin and also your hip flexor on the right side. If you have tight hips, it may be difficult to bring your left foot all the way up to your left hand, you may only get half way. That's okay! Be sure to sink into the stretch, meaning your left elbow should sink down toward your left heel so you feel an intense hip and groin stretch.
Step 3: Point Your Left Arm To The Sky
Next, you take your left arm and open up while keeping it straight and point your hand toward the sky. This creates a great rotational movement that helps open up your shoulders. If you are busy professional with an office job, you more than likely have rounded shoulders. This stretch also engages and loosens up the upper back and core.
Step 4: Back To Push Up Position
Return back to the starting push up position.
Step 5: Downward Dog, Then Repeat With Other Side
The last step is to push your hips backward and up toward the sky like you would in a downward dog yoga pose. You will feel a great stretch in your hamstrings, calves, and it's also engaging your shoulders as well. Your shoulders are prone to injury because they have a large range of motion, so it's really important to warm them up. After this step, you go back to the push up position and repeat with your right arm and leg.
This is a great stretch you can do before your workouts, whether you are doing a cardio workout, a strength circuits workout, going for a jog, or playing a sport. I hope you enjoy it.
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