Most people grew up thinking five to ten minutes of stretching before any type of physical activity was good for their bodies. The reason for stretching was twofold; to make sure your body was ready to play sports, and also to prevent injuries. Studies have now shown that this type of stretching, like touching your toes for 20 seconds, is no longer beneficial before a workout. The proper warm up technique that has been adopted by many is a dynamic warm-up. This is exactly what it sounds like: a warm up that test balance, flexibility, and strength in order to prepare the entire body. There are many different ways to perform a dynamic warm up:
Start jogging at 25 percent of your maximum speed and slowly increase to around 60 percent. Mark out around a 40 foot space and proceed to jog back and forth, starting slow and ending at an up-tempo jog. Make sure to pump your arms at the same rate as your legs.
2. Ankle Roll
The strengthening and warming of ankles are often forgotten, but they're an important part of every physical activity and they require some maintenance. Start with one foot and begin to move your foot clockwise in circles, and then reverse the motion to counter-clockwise. After one ankle is warm move to the next foot.
3. Butt Kickers
In a 40 foot space, start jogging and proceed to kick your feet back towards the rear. Technically, the heel of your foot should be touching your rear while jogging forward. This warm up focuses on the quadriceps.
4. Lateral Shuffle
Start with your feet facing forward and both feet parallel with one another. Begin to shuffle, keeping both feet forward and avoid pointing feet in the direction that you're going. This shuffle should be done at a quick pace. Once you've completed one set of lateral shuffles, begin to shuffle facing the opposite direction.
5. Neck Roll
One of the worst feelings during a workout is when your neck begins to tighten up. To avoid that, try to warm the neck by rolling it. Begin by rolling your neck slowly clockwise and then switch to counter-clockwise. This exercise should help neck mobility during your workout.
6. Side Twist
This exercise ensures that there will be little tightening in the mid-section of your body. Start facing forward and begin to twist your core, while keeping your hips facing forward. Start slow and speed up until your core feels warm.
7. Arm Hugs
The simplest way to explain this exercise is that it's the same, famous arm swing that Michael Phelps did before every race in the Olympics. Start with arms extended laterally and then proceed to make a motion of hugging yourself. When your arms are hugging your body, extend them back out. Begin this motion at a slow pace and then increase the speed. Continue this exercise until your arms and shoulders feel warm.
Begin with both arms at your side, and then start to make circles simultaneously with both arms. The range of motion should start small and slow, but then slowly increase to big and fast. This exercise should be performed until shoulders feel warm and energetic.
9. Knee Highs
Face forward and proceed to start jogging while kicking your knee towards your chest. Make sure you focus on correct form. If it helps, you can extend your hands out at chest height and have your knees touch your hands.
10. Back Pedaling
Start with your back facing the targeted position and begin to back pedal. The key to this is that you stay on the balls of your feet the entire time, otherwise back pedaling on your heels will lead to balance loss and a possible fall. Start slowly and then speed up until you feel warm.
These ten dynamic warm up routines should help athletes feel warm and ready to go before their work out. This routine can be used to replace any "cold stretching" because of the lack of effectiveness that stretching actually has before a workout. Here are a couple of effects that stretching before physical activity has on your body.
Stretching Doesn't Prevent Injuries
Research has shown that there is very little difference between athletes who stretch before an activity and those who don't when it comes to getting injured. A few studies followed athletes who stretched before participating in a sport and those who didn't. The results showed that there was little to no difference between those who stretched with those who did not. These results debunk the myth that if you don't stretch, you'll get hurt.
Stretching Doesn't Warm You Up Properly
Further research has shown that stretching when your body is cold before a workout can actually injure you. This is because the process of stretching before the muscles are warm can result in muscle tears and strains. Muscles should be stretched after they're warm to prevent any injury. When an athlete bends down to touch their toes for 20 seconds, they are actually harming their muscles but putting strain on them. This strain should be put on the muscles after a workout, when you're muscles are warm, as a way to relax them. This new information sends the message that static stretching needs to go.