About to start your workout? Before you jump right into it, always remember to warm up properly unless you want to risk injury. Some great ways to warm up are jumping jacks, jumping rope, walking, or doing dynamic stretches.
Dynamic stretches are different from static stretching, which involves holding a stretch for about 30 seconds and is done to increase flexibility. Dynamic stretches, on the other hand, involve movement (thus the name “dynamic”) while stretching. It helps warm up your body, get your blood pumping, increase your range of motion, and relieve any tension or tightness that you might be having.
The practice of doing dynamic stretches while focusing on your breath has also been shown to relieve stress or anxiety, which can set you up for a focused and clear mindset before a solid workout.
We always start our classes with a few dynamic stretches. Here are some popular ones:
With your legs wider than hip-width apart, bend forward and touch the ground between your feet 3 times, keeping your legs as straight as possible as you do this. Lightly tap the floor once in front of you, once underneath (between your legs), once behind your feet, and then bring your upper body back up and lean back a little with your hands on your hips. You should feel some stretch in your hamstrings and your lower back.
Loosen up your legs and warm up the core by doing leg kicks/swings forward and touching your foot to the opposite hand. You can do this standing in place or even walking forward. Alternate legs each time.
Spiderman lunges are a great way to target your hips–hip mobility is something many people would like to improve, so I’d recommend this before a workout or even as a good cooldown. In a push-up position, bring the right foot on the outside of your right hand. Hold for a second as you feel a stretch in your hips. Then raise your left hand and twist your upper body up toward the sky/ceiling. Hold for another second and then bring your hand down, step the right foot back, and repeat for the other side.
Inchworms (with push-ups if you want) will warm up your core and upper body even more. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and inchworm your hands out to push-up position. You can either do a push-up here or go straight back up to standing position and repeat this exercise. It will give your hamstrings a slight stretch and also engage your core, arms, and chest.
There are many dynamic stretches to choose from, which is particularly helpful if you have something that you want to focus on–for example, you sometimes feel stress in your knees, so do knee circles when you warm up. I know we’re all rushing to get into our workouts, but taking time to warm up (and cool down) properly is always worth it!