You probably know that it’s important to warm up and stretch your muscles before you do any physical activity. But static stretching alone doesn’t make a good warm-up. In fact, stretching a cold, tight muscle can actually cause an injury.
An effective warm-up gradually increases the blood flow to the muscles, making them more pliable and lowering the risk of soreness or injury. Dynamic warm-up exercises are a great way to thoroughly prepare your muscles before doing intense exercise.
Check out these 10 dynamic warm-up exercises that can get you ready for exercise while improving balance, flexibility and strength.
1. Walking or Jogging
Spend at least five or 10 minutes at a slow walk with long strides. Make sure that your arms are swinging and that there’s no tension in your shoulders. Then, gradually increase your pace to a brisk walk or slow jog. This will gradually get your blood flowing, giving your heart and muscles the time they need to adjust to more intense exercise.
2. Ankle Rolls
Don’t forget your ankles when it comes to warming up. Ankle rolls are a good way to avoid sprains or strains. Start by lifting one of your heels and rolling your foot clockwise several times by pivoting on your toes. Then, reverse the motion by rolling your foot counterclockwise. Once the first ankle feels loose, repeat the exercise for the other ankle.
3. Butt Kicks
This exercise is a great way to warm up your hamstrings and glutes. While jogging, exaggerate the backward leg motion by kicking your heel as close as possible to your glutes. The goal is to kick your heels back as high as you can. Continue this for one to two minutes. You can also do this while jogging in place.
4. Lateral Shuffle
This is a great exercise to improve agility. Start with your feet facing forward and hip-width apart. Keep your knees slightly bent and your chest up with a straight back. From this position, take a large step out to one side and push off with the opposite foot to begin moving laterally (to the side). Repeat this movement a few times in one direction and then switch to the other direction to work the other side.
5. Neck Rolls
Neck rolls are a good exercise to avoid a stiff, tight neck during any physical activity. Begin by dropping your chin to your chest. Then, slowly roll your head to one side, then all the way back so that you are looking straight up, and then to the other side. Finally, roll your neck back to the starting position with your chin to your chest to complete the circular motion. Repeat this motion several times in both the clockwise and counterclockwise directions.
6. Side Twists
Side twists are a good way to loosen up your midsection. Stand up straight with your shoulders back and feet hip-width apart. Hold your arms in a position that is comfortable for you (like with hands on your hips or behind your head). Keeping a straight back, slowly twist side to side from your waist. Repeat this movement several times.
7. Arm Hugs
You’ll most likely see any Olympic swimmer performing arm hugs before a race. That’s because they really limber up the arms and shoulders. Start with your arms straight out to your sides. Then bring them all the way across your chest, making the motion of hugging yourself. Then, extend your arms back out to the starting position. Repeat this motion several times, gradually increasing the speed.
8. Arm Circles
Arm circles will loosen up your arms and shoulders and increase your range of motion. Start by standing up straight with your feet hip-width apart and your arms extended straight out to the sides. Slowly start moving your arms in a forward circular motion. Gradually increase the size and speed of the circles. Complete several rotations in one direction and then switch to the other direction.
9. High Knees
At a slow jog, exaggerate the forward leg motion by bringing your knees up toward your chest. Make sure that you stay on the balls of your feet and maintain correct form. Holding your hands palm down at your midsection and bringing your knees up to them during the exercise may help with balance.
This exercise is a great way to improve agility because backpedaling is basically jogging backwards. It is important to stay on the balls of the feet and to keep a slight bend in the knees and hips to maintain balance. Start backpedaling slowly and then gradually increase the speed.
Performing these 10 dynamic warm-up exercises will ensure that your muscles are warm and ready for more intense work. This routine is better than static stretching and will greatly lower your risk of an injury. If you need help finding the right warm-up exercises for you, ask your doctor for advice.