Dynamic stretching is a fantastic way to prepare for physical activity. For one thing, it promotes heat-generating circulation to the target areas of the body, allowing everything from your muscles to tendons to fascia to loosen up in advance of movement (effectively slashing your injury risk and maximizing your mid-workout performance).
Dynamic stretching can also mimic the movements you might perform in a given exercise session or sport, which is an effective way to “prime the system” for coordination and neuromuscular control.
Plus, dynamic stretching avoids the potential injury-causing strain induced by more static “holds” which are typically best left at the end of a workout when the body is sufficiently warm.
So, wondering what type of dynamic stretching you should be trying out? Check out some of our favorites:
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5 Unique Dynamic Stretching Moves
Great for working your hips and hamstrings, this one is great for leg or cardio day.
To do: Stand with feet wider than shoulders and toes out. Shift completely to the right side and lower into a mini-lunge; the left toes can come off the ground and point to the ceiling. Push through your right heel and shift all the way over to the left. Repeat for 30-60 seconds, x 1-2.
This one’s awesome for getting into your deep hip external rotators and hip capsule, and a must for squat day.
To do: start in a high plank. Bring your left foot to the outside of your left hand (feel free to place your right knee down for stabilization). Lunge forward into the left leg, and gently press your left knee out with your left hand (you can allow the outside of your left foot to rest on the floor). Hold for a few breaths, then repeat on the other side. Alternate 10-20 times per side.
Also known as the QL walk, this unusual move is excellent for any day that’s heavy on core (deadlifts, kettlebell swings, squats, etc.), since it warms up your deep trunk muscles including the quadratus lumborum, psoas, and iliacus.
To do: sit on the floor with your chest up, back straight, and legs together and straight out in front of you. Hold a not-too-heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in at your chest. Then, “walk” forward across the floor using your butt: scoot one hip forward, then the other, keeping your legs straight. Repeat 10-20 reps, then try “walking” backward.
There’s a reason the hips keep showing up in this dynamic warm-up post: so many of us keep tension in our hip area.
To do: start on all fours (you may want to be on a relatively soft surface like grass or a yoga mat). Place your knees wider than hip width and turn your toes out. Then, send your hips back toward your feet. Go as far as you can comfortably while still feeling a stretch, then return to the start position. Repeat 10-20 times.
Our shoulders are flexible, but most of us are missing a lot of external rotation thanks to modern technology (think: hunched over computers and smart phones). This exercise is perfect to do with an exercise band, unweighted bar (e.g., PVC pipe), or even a long towel.
To do: hold the opposite ends of the bar, band, or long towel with an overhand grip (palms face down). Your hands should be much further than shoulder width apart to start. Keeping your elbows straight, move the bar up and over your head until it’s resting on or near your low back. Too easy? Bring your hands in closer? Too difficult? Widen your grip. Repeat 10-20 times.
Give these dynamic warm-ups a shot and then let us know if you have any faves of your own!