Wednesday, September 3, 2014
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Finding Fitness: Try a more dynamic warm-up

Here are three movements you can use to make up a dynamic warm-up. (istockphoto.com)
Here are three movements you can use to make up a dynamic warm-up. (istockphoto.com)

Growing up playing sports, one of the first things we would do was stretch. Chances are you know the drill.

Everything from head to toe would be targeted for a minimum of 30 seconds. A light jog may have been incorporated as well, but the focus was always on static stretching.

Static or isometric stretching is done while the body is at rest by gradually elongating the muscle with resistance to a point of discomfort. While this type of stretching will increase flexibility and help relieve tight muscles, it may not be the best warm-up.

Recent studies have shown that this type of stretching can hurt athletic performance by reducing the ability to explosively contract. For example, if a power lifter were to stretch in this manner, he would lose some tension, decreasing his power to explode out of the bottom of a squat.

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  • Studies also have shown that this type of stretching can make an individual more susceptible to injury if going into an intense dynamic workout immediately following. If the muscle is over-stretched, the joint can become unstable.

    Now you’re probably thinking, “What’s the alternative?”

    A dynamic warm-up, where you move as you stretch, has proven to be beneficial in several ways.

    It activates more than one muscle group at a time, improves range of motion, enhances body awareness, and has even been shown to increase performance and power.

    Here are three movements you can use to make up a dynamic warm-up.

    • Lunge with a twist. Start by stepping into a front lung position. Then, slowly turn your torso in a horizontal twist toward the side you are lunging. This will stretch the hip flexors and the upper and lower back. It also activates the core while engaging the lower body.
    • Air squats. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands out in front for balance. Begin by lowering your hips until you are in a squat position, with your hips just below parallel to the ground. If you are looking for something a little more advanced, try jumping squats.
    • Mountain climbers. If you haven’t tried these before, you’re in for a real treat. Holding a pushup position with the arms locked out and the core tight, bring one knee in towards the chest and then back out to the starting position. Continue the movement alternating legs. As your right leg is going back to the starting position, the left leg is coming towards the chest. This movement requires a decent amount of core strength and will get your heart rate up.

    Next time you’re going to get in a good workout or play a pick-up game of your favorite sport, mix it up and try a dynamic warm-up!

    Katie Robinson can be contacted at krobinson@nwfdailynews.com.

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    ©2014 the Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.)

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    Katie Robinson Northwest Florida Daily News, Fort Walton Beach (MCT)
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