Warming up before sports or any bout of physical activity is very important. It prepares the body to move through ranges of motion performed during activity which will decrease the risk of injuries. One way to achieve this is through dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching beneficial in sports and exercise. It utilizes controlled movement patterns to help propel the muscle into an extended range of motion not exceeding one's static-passive stretching ability. In other words, dynamic flexibility sets the body up to move more vigorously in sports and exercise, when done correctly, and sets the body up to perform optimally.
Dynamic stretching has a variety of benefits. According to physical therapist and CEO of Back 2 Health in West Hollywood Slava Shut, " Dynamic flexibility is essential not only for athletes or exercise enthusiasts who are warming up for their sport or physical activity, but it also serves as an excellent rehabilitation tool for my patients who are cleared by their doctor to help restore range of motion and strength in their joints and connective tissue."
The following dynamic flexibility program is excellent for athletes before a game, runners before a run, or for anyone about to hop into a physical activity program. Perform each stretch for a total of 10 times walking in one direction and then turning around and repeating another 10 reps in the other direction. In every stretch, be sure to move your body through the full range of motion and avoid holding the stretches otherwise it becomes more static in nature which is what you want to do after your bout of physical activity versus before.
Lunge with Rotation:
Starting with one foot forward one foot back (as if to be standing on train tracks), lunge with both knees bending at a ninety degree angle and tuck your hips under you to create a neutral pelvis. Bring your hands in front of you in a steeple grip position and without moving your hips from side to side, rotate your upper body only to face one wall and then rotate your arms to the other side. Then, keeping your grip, take a step forward into a lunge with the other foot forward and repeat the trunk rotation. To watch the video demonstration, click HERE.
Balance on one leg and grab the opposite knee in towards your chest and perform a calf raise on the leg you are balancing on. You get extension in the ankle, hip and knee joints with this stretch. For the more advanced exerciser, you may perform a lunge in between every rep and step into the triple extension stretch. Be sure to stabilize this stretch before moving to the other side. There is a balance component to it that can be tricky if done too quickly. To watch the video demonstration, click HERE.
Place one foot forward, balancing on the heel, and send your hips back. With a bent standing leg, a straight front leg and a straight back, slowly reach your hands down the extended leg receiving a hamstring and calf stretch in the outstretched leg. Go into the stretch slowly and come out of the stretch slowly. Once you come up, step your back foot in and then repeat either in an alternating fashion or sticking to one side for 10 reps. To watch the video demonstration, click HERE.
Standing on one leg, kick the other heel back towards your glutes until you have a handle of your ankle. Keep the bent knee close to the standing leg and push your hips slightly forward to enhance the hip stretch and to protect your lower back from hyper-extending. Reach the same arm up to the sky of the bent knee to enhance the stretch. Release the foot stepping forward and then repeat on the other side.To watch the video demonstration, click HERE.
Facing in the opposite direction of the way you lunge, take a big step backwards and, find your stability. Tracking your front knee over the front ankle, and your core engaged, bring your arms overhead to stretch the hip flexors and whole front body. As you bring your arms down, step your front leg to meet your back leg. Repeat on the other side. To watch the video demonstration, click HERE.
Side to Side Lunge:
Step out with your right leg, creating a straddle stance, and side lunge with your right hip shifting to the right so that the knee tracks over your right ankle. Maintain a straight left leg. Reach with your left hand to touch your right ankle. Maintain a straight back. Be mindful of where your knees are at all times. Once you touch your ankle, then slowly lunge to the other side and touch the opposite ankle. Be sure to maintain the integrity of the lunge on the second side as directed on the first side. Step gently pushing off your left foot so that your left leg joins the right leg. Then step out again with your right foot and repeat. Switch directions of this moving side lunge after about 10 reps. To watch the video demonstration, click HERE.
Step your left foot behind your right leg until your pinky toes are side by side on each foot. Using a side bend in your upper body, reach your left arm up to the sky and over towards the right. Step your right foot out and repeat this stretch. To watch the video demonstration, click HERE.
Moving Triangle Pose:
Step out to the right with your right toes facing the side and your left toes facing the front wall. Bend through the right leg while maintaining a straightened left leg as you reach your right arm to the side, landing it either on the inside of the right leg or balancing it on your right thigh. Use your left arm to energetically pull you up towards the sky as you stretch your left side body. Then place your weight on the right leg and step the left leg in. Repeat 10 times and then switch directions. To watch the video demonstration, click HERE.
Photo and Video Credits: Mr Smith