Here are 7 Dynamic Stretches to do Before Your Next Workout
Why is stretching so important?
If you’re short on time, it can be very tempting to skip the pre-workout stretches and jump into your workout. But, there is actually a lot of value in taking just 5 minutes to do a proper warm-up. The best stretches for pre-workout are probably not what you would normally think. That’s because the best pre-workout stretches are going to be dynamic stretches, where you are moving throughout. Versus just a static stretch where you go into a certain pose and hold it.
Dynamic moves are better for your warm-up than static stretching. (Static stretching is more commonly done after your workout.) The reason dynamic stretching is so important is that it increases your body temperature. With an increase in temperature, the heart rate, oxygen levels and blood flow increase as well. This helps decrease muscle stiffness and helps you prepare your body and your muscles for vigorous activity. It also helps prevent straining your muscles or further injuring yourself.
Also, keep in mind that warm-ups shouldn’t be super strenuous, they should be relatively easy and not raise your heart rate too high. If you feel your heart rate increasing quickly or find yourself breathless, dial back and save the intensity for the workout.
Try these seven dynamic stretches that can help you warm up before your next workout:
1. Arm Circles
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hold arms out to the sides, palms down, at shoulder height. Move your arms in circles 20 times in each direction. Progressively increase the size of the circles as you become more flexible.
2. Arm Swings
Stand with arms outstretched forward, parallel to the floor with palms facing down. As you step forward, swing your arms in unison to the right so your left arm is in front of your chest and your fingers point to the right. Keep the torso and head facing forward; move only at the shoulders. Swing your arms in the opposite direction as you step again. Repeat five times on each side.
3. Hip Circles
Stand on one leg, using a countertop for support, and gently swing the opposite leg in circles out to the side. Do 20 circles in each direction. Switch legs. Progressively increase the size of the circles as you become more flexible.
Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder-width apart. Step forward with the left leg and raise the right knee high toward your chest (use a wall for balance, if needed). Use both hands (or one, if using the other for balance) to pull the knee up farther. Pause and lower right leg, then repeat on the other side. Continue "high-stepping" five times on each leg as you walk forward.
5. Heel-to-Toe Walk
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Take a small step forward, placing your right heel on the ground and rolling forward onto the ball of your foot. Rise as high as possible on your toes, while bringing the left foot forward and stepping in the same heel-to-toe roll. Repeat five times on each leg.
6. Lunges with a Twist
Stand with feet parallel, then take an exaggerated step forward (keep one hand on a wall for balance, if needed) with your right foot, planting it fully on the floor in front of you. Allow the knee and hip to bend slowly while keeping your torso upright. Keep right knee directly over ankle – do not allow it to go beyond your toes. Slightly bend your left knee, lowering it until it is a couple of inches above the floor (or as far as flexibility allows). In this position, reach overhead (skip the overhead reach if your shoulders are compromised) with your left arm and bend torso toward the right. Return your torso to an upright position, and step forward with the left foot, back to starting position. Repeat five times on each side.
7. Side Lunge
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Step out to the side and transfer your weight to that leg. Pause, going as low as comfortable. Use your lead food to push you back into the starting position. Repeat five times on each side.
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