Burn through the winter
Brisk mornings and cold nights keeping you from your regular work out, or making your muscles tighter than a Monday morning deadline?
We’ve got the perfect way to break the cold spell – dynamic warm ups. Better than traditional static stretches, dynamic warm up exercises help improve your performance, prevent injuries, and can get your temperature from ‘no just five more minutes’ to ‘let’s do this!’ in no time at all.
What are dynamic stretches and warm ups?
Stretches you learnt back in high school – the ones where you hold a stretch position for 30s to a 1m – are static stretches. And it turns out that these static stretches aren’t good for you.
Dynamic stretches and warm ups are based on movement, using momentum and effort to loosen and prepare muscles and joints for your workout. Unlike traditional techniques, dynamic stretches are great for you and your performance.
To get the best results out of your dynamic warm up, you should go through a mix of specific and general movements.
General dynamic warm up exercises
Even if your sport or exercise uses a small number of muscles or focuses on one area of the body, you’ll want to make sure that all of you is ready in case it gets thrown into action. Here are great dynamic exercises to make sure you’re warmed up head to toe!
Lunge with torso rotation
Start by standing in a neutral position, holding your hands together in front of you. Lunge forward while lifting your arms straight out, and while in the lunge position, twist your body over your extended leg. Reverse the movement, and instead of going back to neutral standing position, balance on one foot (your front leg), lunge with the other leg, and repeat.
T push up
Just like a regular push up, but with a little extra on top!
Get into a planking position and perform a push up. Instead of stopping when your arms are extended, in a controlled motion, lift one arm straight up, pointing at the ceiling. Follow your arm by turning your back, shoulders, neck and head to look at the extended arm. Reverse the movement and repeat with the other arm.
Note: You don’t have to push up so hard you fling yourself into the air! Calm, controlled movements will avoid unnecessary impact and damage before the real workout.
Spider walk/Vietnam crawl
On all fours, reach out with one arm, and bring the opposite leg up to the side of your body. Keeping your body as close to the ground as possible, move forward by pushing with your tucked leg and reaching out with your opposing arm. Keeping the movement controlled, your neck relaxed, and your eyes forward.
Lie face down on the ground with your arms out straight (like a t). Reach one leg back over your body and place it as close as you can to your opposite arm, while facing the arching leg’s side. The activated side of your body should twist, while your inactive side should remain as flat and close to the ground as possible.
A simple classic. Lift your knee to your chest, holding it tightly against you, and go up onto your toes on your opposite foot. Don’t worry if you start to lose your balance – simply let yourself take the step and repeat the exercise on the other foot.
Specific dynamic warm up exercises
Before you hit those big lifts or hit the ground running, you’ll want the main muscles and joints used in your activity to be ready for the impact.
Examples for specific activities
Jogging/running/sprinting – brisk walking, running on the spot, knee raises and lunges
Lifting/weighted workouts – body-weight squats, light-weight lifts, medicine ball rotations, resistance band exercises
Swimming – shoulder swings, running on the spot, torso twists, resistance band movements
Low intensity, same exercise
Going through your routine with low intensity or body/light weights will get your heart pumping and your muscles primed and warmed for your workout.
How will you know you’re ready?
By the end of your warm up, you should be:
- Warm (obviously)
- Have a raised heart rate
- Feel loose
- Have your muscles primed
Ensuring you warm up properly is going to help you get through colder days and nights, prevent injury, and help you perform better – good luck!
What's the ideal warm up? - Greatist
Negative effect of static stretching restored when combined with a sport specific warm-up component - Journal of science and medicine in sport
The effect of static stretching on phases of sprint performance in elite soccer players - Journal of strength and conditioning research
A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on performance- European journal of applied physiology
Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury - Sports medicine
Combination of general and specific warm-ups improves leg-press one repetition maximum compared with specific warm-up in trained individuals - Journal of strength and conditioning research
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies.