More than twenty years ago, a pre-workout warm-up usually meant a series of long, slow, sedentary stretches. Several ’90s kids — dressed in a cotton T-shirt in school colors — sat in a handicap pose with one knee awkwardly behind them, setting out to jog their coach-mandated miles.
But in recent years, exercise science has coalesced around a better way to prepare your body for exertion: the dynamic warm-up.
A dynamic warm-up is a set of controlled, up-tempo movements that can help make your workout safer and more effective, says Alvaro López Samanes, an assistant professor and international coordinator of physiotherapy at the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria in Madrid. said, which Study them in tennis players.
Research shows that dynamic warm-ups improve agility, speed and overall performance for a wide range of sports, including Tennis, baseball And Continuously, they also seem to be decreasing injury risk, In a fast-moving, change-of-direction sport like football, a tailored dynamic warm-up nearly reduces the chance of injury 30 percent in a 2017 research review.
While Olympic sprinters and World Cup players do them before competing, they’re not just for elite athletes. In fact, “people who don’t run athletically are often most in need of a dynamic warm-up,” said Emily Hutchins, a personal trainer and owner of On Your Mark Coaching & Training in Chicago. If you go straight for a workout from your office chair or your bed, you may arrive with a hunched posture, not to mention cold, tight muscles that don’t move fluidly. The dynamic warm-up bridges the gap.
Chances are, you’ve updated your workout gear since middle-school gym class—here’s how to modernize your warm-up.
How does dynamic warm-up work?
A dynamic warm-up involves a series of drills—at least some of which contain dynamic stretches that take the joints through their full range of motion. imagine a goalie, a sprinter skipping the track side shuffle With a pitch or point guard through the motion of a free-throw.
Dynamic movements raise your body temperature and begin to apply gentle pressure to your soft tissues. Together, this produces heat and stress called a thixotropic effectsaid David Behm, professor and exercise scientist at Memorial University of Newfoundland’s School of Human Kinetics and Recreation. Muscles and tendons become less sticky and move more fluidly, the way stuck-on ketchup separates when you shake the bottle, or honey becomes thinner when you stir it into a cup of hot tea.
Because of its fast pace, dynamic stretching also activates intracellular sensors called muscle spindles, which then increase electrical currents that send signals to your brain and muscles. communicate and make your muscles more responsive, Dr. Behm said. An opposite effect occurs when you hold long, slow stretches: Those same spindles get suppressed, slowing the messages between your brain and body to help ease tension and stiffness. That’s why static stretching by itself — though important for speed and injury reduction — doesn’t prepare you for a workout, he said.
In addition to the immediate benefits of a dynamic warm-up, Dr. López Samanes said that over time, the increased agility and coordination can also reduce your risk of injury. research It shows Performing these pre-workout routines at least twice a week for 10 to 12 weeks can protect muscles, joints, and bones from damage.
How long should the warm-up be?
Good news for those short on time: Dr. López Samanes said that at least eight minutes will be sufficient for a dynamic warm-up. In fact, if you stretch it to 25 minutes, you’re likely to feel Manda Going to your workout.
Based on the research, he suggests six to eight exercises, each performed two to three times for about 15 to 30 seconds. Start relatively easy and build up your effort and intensity.
Which exercises should you include?
Start with lower body movements. The larger muscles of your legs and core generate more heat, which raises your core body temperature, said Dr. López Samanes.
From there, match your warm-up with the specifics of your workout. “You need to practice the movements you’re going to do,” Dr. Behm said.
If your sport or activity involves rapid changes of direction — think squash or soccer — incorporate agility-based and side-to-side movements. And if you’re going to take on something with an overhead component — such as basketball, softball or climbing — involve quick movements that activate your shoulder complex, the network of muscles and tendons surrounding that oft-injured joint.
To get started, here’s a basic routine that works for many types of workouts:
From a standing position, kick your right leg straight out in front of you to about waist height, stretching your hamstrings. Lower it back down, then repeat, stepping forward with the left leg.
Begin standing with your feet together. Lift your right leg off the floor and take a big step forward. Bend your right knee and lower your hips until your right thigh is parallel to the floor — or until the position becomes uncomfortable, whichever comes first. Aim to keep your back straight, your upper body still and your back leg engaged. Return to starting position and repeat with left leg.
Sitting all day can cause tight hip flexor muscles; This exercise helps to activate and lengthen them. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then take a step forward with your left leg. Raise your right knee and rotate your leg so that your shin is parallel to the floor, holding your right ankle near your hip with your left hand. Place your right hand on your right knee, gently “follow” and pull the foot toward your chest. Release, step forward with right leg and repeat on the other side.
From standing, take a big step to the right, pointing your toes forward and your heel pressed into the floor. Bend your hips and your right knee as you shift your weight onto your right leg. Continue until your left leg is almost fully extended and your right knee is over the second toe of your right foot. Return to standing, and repeat on the left side.
Keeping your toes pointed forward, your torso tall and your weight in the balls of your feet, shuffle to one side, then the other. As you do this, raise your arms overhead and lower them, as if you were doing jumping jacks.
This move opens your mid-back and lengthens your chest, counteracting the effects of slouching at a screen. Lie on your left side with your knees and hips both bent 90 degrees and your arms straight out in front of you, palms touching. Reach your right arm straight up and over the floor to your right side, rotating your trunk instead of your hips. Return to starting position, then repeat on the other side.
Extra Credit: Add a foam roller.
If you have a little more time and want to take your warm-up to the next level, spend a few minutes with a self-massage tool like a foam roller. some study suggest Combining foam rolling with a dynamic warm-up can further increase agility and coordination.
Ms. Hutchins has her clients roll out first, to boost blood flow before starting their dynamic movements; Dr. López Samanes reserves it for later, when warmed-up muscles can improve your range of motion.
Cindy Kuzma is a reporter in Chicago and co-author of “Breakthrough Women’s Running: Dream Big and Train Smart.”
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