Warming up your muscles and joints before physical activity is crucial to injury prevention. Whatever activity…running, playing soccer or tennis…you really want to take the time to warm up your hips and lower extremities. Today, I’d like to take just a few minutes to run through a few pre-exercise stretches to help get your muscles and joints ready for action.
One thing to keep in mind is that your muscles don’t just run vertically or horizontally; they actually run diagonally. In order to warm them up correctly, you must do your stretches in three dimensions. The warm-ups I will be sharing with you will help warm your muscles up not only three dimensionally but dynamically as well.
Warming up is more critical before the exercise; stretching is more critical after the exercise. These three dimensional stretches are more about warming up than about literally stretching, but you get both aspects at the same time.
Our first one is going to be for hips and calves. It’s kind of our “two for one” deal. Find a wall in your home that will stabilize you. Start off by leaning into the wall with both hands flat on the wall. Next, step your feet out away from the wall so you are leaning. Take your right leg, bend at the knee and swing your leg back and forth, front to back in a diagonal pattern, moving through the hip joint. You will be getting a stretch on the left calf as well as in both hips. Repeat this action 10 times and then do the same on the other side.
Next we will be doing three dimensional stretching of the hamstrings. Your hamstrings are a critical part of your body to be warming up before any physical activity. All you’ll need is a bench or a stool to put your foot on, keep your knee slightly bent (this is referred to as a “soft knee”), your torso is kept upright (back straight and tummy tucked in tightly), and you gently tip forward at the hip until you feel a little stretch in the hamstring. Once you feel this stretch, to make it three dimensional, you will rotate through the trunk from side to side in a gentle twisting motion. The stretch will wind around the inside and outside of your hamstring. If you notice, this looks a lot like sprinting…and that’s exactly what we’re trying to warm up. Do about 10-15 rotations and then switch to the other leg and repeat.
Our final warm up involves the hip flexors. The hip flexors are also very important to keep mobile and stretched. They have a big affect on your hip but also on your lower back. Again, you’ll need a bench or a stool to place your foot on. Place your left foot on the bench (you will be stretching your RIGHT hip flexor). The key is to feel the stretch high up in the thigh, keep your abs tight and keep your back straight and slightly shift forward…this is the first dimension. Then our next dimension starts with you reaching your right arm over your head towards your left side; away from the side you are trying to stretch. Your stretch should be slow and controlled…not bouncing…but definitely moving through a stretch. As with the other warm-ups repeat this movement 10-15 times and then do the same on the other side.
These are my three favorite warm up drills. If you have any questions or think you may need further assistance, give us a call. You can receive a free consultation at https://ptpro.biz.