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Stop Doing the Traditional Warm-Up, You Need Dynamic Stretching Instead

Stop Doing the Traditional Warm-Up, You Need Dynamic Stretching Instead

The most important part of your workout begins with the warm-up. It gets your mind, body, and muscles ready to tackle the workout. When we were younger we learned in gym class the importance of stretching before activities, but maybe it isn’t intense enough. What if there were another way to stretch your muscles that targets the muscles you’re about to work out? I’m talking about dynamic stretching which is a more effective and systematic warm-up exercise. Keep reading to learn new techniques to intensify your warm-ups.

What Exactly Is Dynamic Stretching?

I’m glad you asked! In short, it’s “stretching as you are moving”. Some examples would be: high kicks, jump squats, jump lunges, and knee-to-chest. The type of stretching you’re probably used to doing is called static stretching. It requires little movement, such as reaching down to touch your toes.

How Is It Different from Traditional Warm-Up?

Simply put, it’s more effective than traditional stretching. When you’re engaging in static stretching you are loosening up your muscles, but it doesn’t necessarily get them ready for what you’re about to perform. It’s more laid back which can trick your mind into relaxation mode. This can make for a difficult transition from a period of rest mode to work mode. Dynamic stretching helps improve the range of motion around your joints, reducing the risk of injury during your workout. Over time your performance will improve as well as maximizing your movements due to increased flexibility of your joints.

How Can I Benefit from Dynamic Stretching?

What’s so great about it? I’ve already listed some differences above, but check out what I’m about to tell you below. You’ll be glad you did.

  • It’s a full body warm-up. It warms up your body even faster than a low-level aerobic activity such as a walk or run on the treadmill. It builds up intensity before the actual event and prepares the body for peak performance. When you engage in a dynamic warmup, it helps your body prepare itself for the demands you’re about to put it through.
  • It improves kinesthetic awareness. It prepares the body for all the different movements you’ll be doing. Dynamic stretching mimics the exercises you’ll perform during a workout to help your body prepare for those movements. Kinesthetic awareness is being able to understand where your body is in time and space. To give you an example, try touching the tips of your fingers together. Having this awareness is very important when working out or playing a sport.
  • You’ll be way more flexible! Flexibility is the range of motion in a joint. Dynamic stretching improves the range of motion of the joints which will help you to perform better and could reduce the risk of an injury.

6 Simple Dynamic Stretching You Can Try to Reap the Benefits

1. Lunge with a twist

    via The Exercist on Tumblr

    1. Stand with feet about shoulder width apart.

    2. Step forward with your left foot into a lunge position.

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    3. From your torso, twist your upper body to the left. Then, reach across your left side with your arms outstretched. (Think of pointing to the left from your belly button.)

    4. Maintain a slow, controlled movement throughout the exercise.

    5. Slowly move your arms to center and step forward with the opposite foot and twist to the other side.

    2. Side lunge touching heel

      via POPSUGAR

      1. Begin with the knees and hips slightly bent, feet hip-width apart, and the head and chest up.

      2. Staying low, take a slow, lateral step to the right. Keep your toes pointed forward and stay low. Extend the left knee, driving your weight to the right, flexing the knee and hip into a side lunge.

      3. As you lower yourself, reach across with your left hand to touch your right heel or ankle. Maintain good posture through the entire spine, keeping your head and chest up.

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      4. Pause at the bottom of the motion, and then extend through the working leg to return to a standing position, transitioning into a lunge to the opposite side.

      3. Arm circles

        via Womanista

        1. Stand up and extend your arms straight out to the sides. The arms should be parallel to the floor and perpendicular (90-degree angle) to your torso. This will be your starting position.

        2. Slowly start to make circles of about 1 foot in diameter with each outstretched arm. Breathe normally as you perform the movement.

        3. Continue the circular motion of the outstretched arms for about ten seconds. Then reverse the movement, going the opposite direction.

        4. Hip stretch with a twist

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          via Greatist

          1. Start in the push-up position with your back flat and hands and toes squarely on the ground.

          2. Bring one knee forward so that your foot is flat on the ground just behind the plane of your hands.

          5. High kicks

            via Runwell.com

            1. Reach your right arm straight out in front of you, parallel with the ground. Your hand should be flat with your palm facing the ground.

            2. Step forward to put your weight on your left foot and kick your right foot up towards your hand with your toes flexed. You should work towards touching your toes to your palm.

            3. Repeat, alternating legs.

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            6. Jump squats

              via POPSUGAR

              1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

              2. Start by doing a regular squat, then engage your core and jump up explosively.

              3. When you land, lower your body back into the squat position to complete one rep. Land as quietly as possible which requires control.

              4. Do two or three sets of 10 reps.

              The warm-up is the most important part of a workout to prepare mentally and physically. Dynamic stretching is an effective way to stretch muscles because it targets the muscles you’re about to work out, making it a more effective and systematic warm-up. Try these new techniques to intensify your warm-ups!

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              Erica Wagner

              Freelance Writer

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              Published on August 16, 2019

              15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners

              15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners

              When you choose the right exercises, and make strength training a priority, it will have a great payoff to improve your running. Studies have shown incorporating a strength training program to your running routine improves running economy.[1]

              Here are 15 strength training exercises specifically for runners.

              1. Planks

              The plank is a very important core exercise that will help give you more control and balance while running. Having a strong core will also keep you more stable and in control if you have to navigate uneven surfaces.

              The plank is a simple exercise and involved balancing on your forearms and the tips of your toes, so that your back is “straight as a plank”. You want to focus on keeping your abs tight and imagine sucking your belly button up into your spine to have them properly engaged.

              Aim for 30 to 45 seconds for a few rounds. Ultimately, you want to hold them as long as you can with proper form – so every time you perform a plank you want to go a little longer than previous ones.

              2. Side Planks

              The same concept is applied but you are now engaging your core in a different manner and engaging your oblique muscles too. This time, you are going to lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other.

              You will lean on your right forearm and lift your hips off the ground keeping your head lined up with your torso and ankles. Keep your other hand on your hip to help ,and control balance, and focus on not moving or swaying. Keep your abs tight to engage them and hold for 30-45 seconds, or longer if you can.

              3. Clamshells

              For this exercise, you are going to need a simple resistance band. Start with the band wrapped around both legs just below the knee. Your starting position will be on the ground lying on your side with your top hip and shoulder pointing towards the ceiling. Your hips will be on the ground, keep your back straight and your feet together, and lift up with your top knee as far as you can with the resistance.

              Pause for a second at the top and lower back down under control. You can do 10 reps on this side before switching over and doing another 10 reps and aim for 2 to 3 sets.

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              Clamshells are going to help strengthen your abductor muscles giving you stronger hips and more stability while running.

              4. Single-Leg Bridge

              You will start lying on your back with your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart with knees bent. You will straighten out one leg so it’s out in front of you in the air and lift your body up by pushing with the leg on the ground.

              You want to flex your abs and glutes while pushing upward and try to keep your hips level throughout the motion before returning to the ground. You can also hold your body in the upright position for 5-10 seconds before returning to the ground to get more engagement before switching over to the other leg.

              The single-leg bridge will help strengthen your glutes which are crucial for running power and stride strength.

              5. Standing Calf Raises

              This is a simple exercise but one that is very important for strengthening the calves. The stronger they are, the less fatigue you will experience during running. You will need to find an elevated step or platform for this exercise.

              Stand on the platform with your heels hanging off the edge. Find something stable to hold on to for balance and start by lower your heels down until you feel a stretch in the back of your calves. Then, stand upwards like you are trying to see over a fence. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

              6. Arch Lifting

              You will start out standing with your feet directly under your hips, and this is best done without shoes. You will rotate the arch of your foot upward while keeping your toes and heels in contact with the ground.

              Don’t let your toes tighten and you want to hold for a few seconds at the top before returning to the ground. You can do 3 sets of 10 repetitions and this is going to help strengthen the arches of your feet.

              The stronger your arches are the better it is to keep your running stride strong and prevent less fatigue in the feet.

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              7. Half-Kneel Hip Flexor Stretch

              Strong hips are paramount for running and the hip flexors can easily become strained and overused. This exercise will help to strengthen them and provide more power and stability while running. You will start kneeling with one foot forward and the other knee bent underneath the hip.

              Keep your abs tight, your back straight, and shift your body weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hips. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds before switching over to the other leg.

              8. Alternating Lunges

              These are going to develop power and strength in your quads and glutes to help give you a more powerful stride. You will start standing with your hands on your hips looking straight out in front of you.

              Step forward with your right leg and lower down just before your opposite knee touches the ground. Then, push through your heel to return to the standing position before performing the lunge with your left leg. Alternate between the right and left leg so that each one has done 10 reps and you can perform 3 sets of this.

              9. Jump Squats

              These can be done just with your bodyweight and help to develop explosive power in the lower body. The jump squat is handy for when you have to run hills and need more power for harder stretches of your run.

              The best way is to start in a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart. You will drive through the heels of your feet and explode upwards. As your bodyweight brings you back to the ground, control your weight as you go back into the squat position to fully engage the muscles.

              Make sure not to let your knees move inwards and keep your abs tight, your head up, and your chest out. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps.

              10. Skater Hops

              This will help to build leg and core strength, along with improving balance. You will start standing upright but then bending the knees slight like you’re about to sit down. You will then drive off your right foot, jumping a few feet out to the left.

              You will land on your left foot while your right foot swings behind your left leg. Then, drive off the left foot using the momentum of your right foot swinging back to land back on it. You will keep doing these side hops for ten times each leg and the motion should look like a speed skater shifting side to side.

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              11. Bulgarian Split Squat

              This will be similar to the lunges but, will really ramp up the resistance for the quads and is a great strength training exercise for runners. You are going to need an elevated surface or bench to stand in front of. The starting position will be standing upright with your head up and hands on your hips.

              Start with your right foot behind you supported by the bench. You will start by lowering your hips to drops your left leg down to around a 90-degree angle, stopping just before your right knee hits the ground.

              Next, push up through the heel until you are back at the starting position and perform ten reps, under control, before you switch over to the right leg. Perform 3 sets of this.

              To make this even tougher, you can hold dumbbells in your hands hanging at your sides.

              12. Arabesque

              These will help in activating and controlling your hips. You will start off by standing on one leg, hands on your hips, and making sure your hips are level and balanced. You can then put your arms out to the side to give you more balance.

              Start by tipping your torso forward as your non-weight-bearing leg extends out behind you. You can slightly bend your knee to help with control and you want to have your back and extended leg as level as possible. You should end up basically parallel to the floor with your shoulder, hip, and ankle should be in a straight line.

              When you’ve gone as far forward as you can, return to the starting position and perform 8 repetitions before switching to the other leg.

              Perform 2 to 3 sets. These are all about quality over quantity so if you can only do 4 or 5, that’s fine.

              13. Hip Bridge

              This is another great exercise to target the glutes which are the source of your running power. Start by lying on the ground with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Squeeze your glutes and then lift your hips up towards the ceiling.

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              Your hips, knees, and shoulders should be in a straight line. Hold at the top for a second and then lower back down under control. Perform this 12 times and then, you can do 3 sets. If these get easier, you can hold a weight across your stomach for more resistance.

              14. Push-Ups

              A classic exercise, and for good reason. As much as you want to focus your strength training on the lower body, you can’t neglect your upper body. Your arms are helping drive and propel you while running and a strong upper body helps with your overall balance and stability.

              You can start laying facedown on the ground with your palms facing downwards and elbows tucked into your sides. Focus on pushing through the heel of your palms upward, stopping just before your elbows lock out. Lower back down under control and stop just before your chest touches the ground.

              Focus on keeping the elbows tucked into your side and avoid having them flail outwards. You can perform 10 reps for 3 sets of these.

              15. Squat to Overhead Press

              This is a full-body motion that works a majority of muscles, builds power, explosiveness, and coordination. You will need two dumbbells and you will start standing, feet shoulder-width apart, with the dumbbells, held up by your shoulders – palms facing forward.

              Send your hips back and lower down into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you stand up, press the dumbbells overhead and return them to the starting position. Go for 10 reps and three sets.

              The Bottom Line

              As much as you’d like to, you can’t be running all the time. It can lead to overuse, injuries and burnout. The perfect way to offset this is with strength training, making sure you perform your training with proper form and technique, avoiding mistakes which can lead to injury.

              There are many other strength exercises such as the deadlift, which works the back and leg muscles which are vital for running economy improvement and injury prevention.[2] These exercises will make you a more efficient and resilient runner allowing you to improve your distances and times.

              Even if you’ve been against strength training for runners, you can see now how it’s necessary in order to improve your overall running ability and performance.

              Featured photo credit: Stage 7 Photography via unsplash.com

              Reference

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