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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 October 11, 2018

              7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

              7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

              Building and maintaining a strong upper back depends not only on strength-training, but stretching and nutrition as well. Stretching the upper back muscles, along with a healthy diet can help alleviate pain while improving endurance.

              Did you know that stretching your upper back builds endurance for sports, your job – which may require heavy lifting – and simple, everyday activities? Many people who exercise don’t recognize the importance of having a strong upper back, and often neglect this part of the body, focusing more on the lower back where injuries are more prone to occur.

              Upper back endurance is necessary for runners, hikers, golfers, tennis players, bowlers, cyclists; the list goes on and on. If saving time is important to you, you want to reduce chronic back pain, boost your energy levels, or you simply need ways to get through a day at the office while confined to a computer, you’ll begin to understand why the following upper back stretches and exercises are necessary.

              Here are seven stretches, combined with exercises, to help you maintain a strong upper back:

              1. Lat Pull-Downs

              By contracting and lengthening your latissimus dorsi muscles, trapezius, deltoids, rhomboids, teres major, along with the other muscles groups in and around your upper back, you are building muscle endurance and increasing mobility.

              Seated at a lat pull-down machine, select a weight stack that is comfortable. Remember, you’re not preparing for a bodybuilding competition, you just want to exercise the back, so heavy weight is unnecessary.

              Grab the wide bar above your head, palms down, and using a wide grip, pull the bar down to your chest and contract your upper back muscles.

              Keep your head up, looking at the bar. This also helps keep your spine straight and provides a clearance so that the bar doesn’t hit your face. Slowly return the bar to the top and repeat for 15 reps. Do three to four sets.

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              Here’s the correct technique by Denice Moberg:

              2. Indoor Rowing

              If upright exercises like walking on the treadmill or running outdoors bore you, you can strengthen your core using a rowing machine. Not only will you chisel your back, but the elongation of the upper back during the stroke motion creates a good stretch.

              First, select a tension that is challenging but not a struggle. Make sure that your feet are securely placed in the machine’s foot straps, nice and tight to prevent the feet from moving while rowing.

              Next, slide yourself in the rowing saddle forward toward the row bar and pull the bar toward the mid-section of your trunk area, which is the finish. Pulling the bar, bring your elbows beyond your back while contracting your upper muscles and rear shoulders.

              Your back should be straight with a slight angle of around 100 degrees. Do not hunch.

              During the catch, your legs should be at a 90 degree angle while locking out your arms completely. As a stretching exercise, repeat this motion for five minutes.

              Here’s how you can do it:

              3. Side Plank Rotation

              If you’re short on time, floor exercises such as planks strengthen your core and can be done at home or during your lunch break at work. They can be done in 30 to 60 second increments.

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              There are a few plank variations:

              The low-position forearm plank in which your body weight is supported by your elbows; the straight-arm plank, which is a high-position plank; side plank in which your body is turned to one side and supported by one straightened arm; the stability-ball plank which is more challenging for your trunk; and the plank that gives you a good stretch is the side plank rotation.

              To begin the side plank rotation, begin in the high plank position. Slowly turn your body to one side while stacking one foot on top of the other. Extend the opposite arm toward the ceiling and as you lower your arm, reaching underneath your body and rotating your trunk.

              Done properly, you will feel the stretch along your rhomboids and shoulders. Repeat the rotation – reaching and tucking – 10 times. Switch sides.

              Here’s a Side Plank Rotation demonstrated by Train Aggressive:

              4. Yoga Stretches

              A good way to incorporate breathing with stretching and gain flexibility in your core is Kundalini yoga – an intense yoga practice – gets your blood flowing and works wonders for the spine and posture.

              The “Cat-Cow” pose is a great upper back warm-up, and when combined with the “Breath Of Fire”[1] or “fast breathing,” energy is sent through the entire body which stimulates the flow of cell activity and increases lung capacity.

              On all fours, arms straight and directly below your shoulders, and knees directly below your hips, hunch your back, inhaling as you tuck your head into your chest, then exhale while arching your back and raise your head toward to sky.

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              The rapid inhaling and exhaling in this exercise is known as the “Breath Of Fire,” as mentioned above. Increase the pace of both the “Cat-Cow” and “Breath Of Fire” and repeat this movement for up to five minutes.

              This is how to do a Cat-Cow pose for energy:

              5. Side Bends

              This is a simple stretch to elongate the space between your ribs and increase range of motion, which helps achieve flexibility in the abdominals, spine, and lateral core.

              Seated or standing with your back straight, raise your arms above your head and firmly hold your wrist. Gently pull your trunk to one side and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. When finished, repeat on opposite side.

              Note: If standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart, if seated keep your feet flat on the floor.

              Let’s take a look at how to do a standing side bend:

              6. Pole Stretch

              By creating opposing force and pulling on a stationary object, you are stretching your lats. The upper sides of your back. Here, you are performing a static stretch which is a stretch held beyond its normal range.

              Find a pole, mounted gym apparatus, or other floor-affixed object and, while standing, pull on the object with slightly bent knees and back flat at a 45-degree angle.

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              Continue to pull while extending your arms, feeling the stretch in your lats and rhomboid muscles. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat if needed.

              7. Shoulder Blade Stretch

              The shoulder blades are connected to the rhomboid muscles in the upper back. Sudden, quick movements like pulling a heavy object or even tossing a near-weightless object overhead, like a tennis ball during a serve, can strain the unstretched muscles between your shoulder blades, causing spasms.

              Here’s how to avoid muscle strain:

              Standing tall with feet shoulder width apart, gently pull your elbow across your chest, just beneath your chin, and hold for 15 seconds. If you do not feel immediate relief, try lowering or raising the elbow and perform the stretch again. Different angles can make a big difference.

              There you have it – Seven upper back stretches and exercises to reduce pain and improve endurance. But while upper back stretches are important, a diet rich in antioxidants is equally key.

              Bonus Tip: Getting a Diet Rich in Antioxidants

              Antioxidants, also known as “Super Foods,” prevent the build up of free radicals in your body and control oxidative stress. These free radicals are toxins that get in the way of endurance, flexibility, and cause inflammation, among other fitness obstacles.

              How do you incorporate antioxidants into your diet? Here are some common foods and beverages rich in antioxidants:

              A good combination of quick and easy targeted cardiovascular exercises, static stretches, range-of-motion stretches, and yoga poses can increase upper back endurance and boost your energy levels, making your activities – both sedentary and active – manageable and fun.

              Once you begin to incorporate these methods of relief into your routine, you will begin to walk taller, run farther, and hike longer!

              Featured photo credit: Geert Pieters via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1]Yogapedia: Breath of Fire

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