No one plans on getting hurt but injuries are too frequently a part of an active lifestyle. Not all injuries can be avoided but there are some steps you can take to decrease your risk of getting hurt while also increasing your performance. Performing a proper warm up can benefit anyone from a highly competitive NFL athlete to a weekend warrior trail runner. Regardless of the level of competition or activity, injuries do happen and one main cause of injuries is related to an improper warm up or lack of stretching.
Physiological reasons for a warm up
- Warms connective tissues
- Increases blood flow to the muscles
- Incresases joint range of motion
- Lubricates the joints and reduces stiffness
- Increases work capacity
- Decreases risk for injury
We use and abuse our bodies during exercise so we have developed a simple dynamic warm up routine that only requires a little space and a little time. This instructable guides you through a dynamic routine that provides an adequate warm up for the lower and upper body.
All you need is 5-10 minutes, a few meters of open space, and a positive attitude!
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Step 1: Butt Kickers
The first exercise is butt kickers. This exercise focuses on the quadriceps muscle, which is located in the front of your thigh.
1. Jog forward and exaggerate the bend in the knee in order to kick your butt with the back of your heel
2. If you cannot make contact, bend as far as you can and try to feel the stretch in the quads
3. Perform the exercise for about 10 meters, then turn around and do the same on the trip back
* It is important to keep your core strong throughout this warmup. Basically, clench your abdomen and keep it tight. This will keep your body in line and balanced. It also puts less strain on your back while exercising.
Step 2: Frankensteins
Next we will do high kicks or what is sometimes referred to as frankensteins. This exercise will stretch out your hamstring, which is located on the back side of your thigh.
1. Stand up straight with your feet apart.
2. Hold your hands out parallel to your body.
3. Keeping the core strong, try and touch your toes to your hands.
4. Walk forward, alternating feet each time for about 10 meters.
5. Turn around and repeat the process going back to the starting position.
* It is important not to force the kick or use too much momentum in the movement right when you start, this could counteract the goal of the stretch and cause injury.
Step 3: Lunges With a Twist
After frankensteins, lunges will continue to work on warming up the hamstrings, quads, and glutes.
1. Step forward into the lunge keeping your core strong and head up.
** Do not lunge too far or you will not fully activate the glutes and hamstrings, do not let your knee touch the ground.
2. Keep your weight back and try to keep your knee from shifting in front of your toes.
3. Lunge forward for 10 meters, taking a deep breath with each lunge, but do not turn around.
4. Step backwards into the lunge when returning to the starting position.
* Stepping backwards into the lunge will encourage more glute activation.
Step 4: Side Straddle Lunges
Similar to walking lunges, the side straddle will involve stepping laterally into a side lunge stretching the groin and hamstrings.
1. From a standing position, spread your legs apart and lean to one side, bend the leg you're leaning towards and keep the other straight.
2. Sit into the stretch and feel your groin tighten while maintaining a strong upper body.
3. Stay in this position for about 10 seconds and switch legs.
*Do not sit do far into the stretch that your glutes stop supporting your weight.
Step 5: High Knees
Next we will warm up the hip and hip flexors with high knees.
1. Jog forward bringing your knees towards your chest each time.
2. Jog forward with high knees for 10 meters, turn around and repeat as you return to starting position.
- Stay up on your toes, keep your weight back, and maintain a strong core during this exercise.
- You may not feel the stretch as much during this exercise, however tight hips and improper activation of the hip flexors is a main contributing factor for overcompensation of muscles in the lower extremities.
Step 6: Calves Stretching
There are a couple different ways to warm up and stretch your calves.
One way is to find an elevated surface, such as a set of stairs to use as an aid.
1. Place the toes of one foot on the edge of the step and raise your self up and down 10-12 times.
2. Switch legs and repeat for 10-12 repetitions.
- Focus on going all the way up and getting maximum muscle contraction and then relaxing into the stretch as you lower yourself back towards the ground.
- This exercise is even more effective if you hold a weight in one hand.
Another way to stretch out your calves is to find a wall or supportive surface to lean on.
1. Push down on the back of your ankle with the opposite foot as shown.
2. Do this for 10 seconds on each leg.
- This will put lots of tension on your calf loosening it up effectively.
- For a deeper stretch, look up as you stretch and rotate your hips forward until you feel the increase in tightness.
Step 7: Arm Circles
For the upper body, you will perform arm circles
1. Stand with your feet shoulder at width and establish a strong base.
2. Stretch your arms out and begin making circles that start small gradually grow.
3. Swing your arms forwards and backwards from small to large.
- This exercise will help warm up the shoulder girdle by activating the stabilizer muscles in the shoulder and surrounding areas
* Be sure not to use your arms momentum for the stretch but instead focus on controlling the motion using muscles in the shoulder girdle