Warm up and stretching is significantly important before a workout and more so during the winter, to avoid muscle stress and strain. The cold weather makes muscles tighter and less supple, leaving them vulnerable to injury. A proper stretching routine will warm up the muscles. Adding 10 minutes to your workout stretching routine will warm up your muscles to protect them during the cold weather.
Warm-up includes some aerobic activity to get the blood moving to your muscles, like a brisk walk or run for a few minutes. You’ll soon feel the effect of increased blood flow.
Dynamic stretching is not the best for improving flexibility. But it is good way to warm up for your sport and improve performance. A dynamic warm-up should include explosive movements such as high knees, skipping and moving lunges. It is important to remember that the purpose of these types of exercises is to prepare your joints and ligaments for the high intensity portion of your workout. Make sure not to push yourself too hard, but instead focus on starting slow and revving up your body for an effective and dynamic workout.
Below are listed top 10 stretches to get your body rolling.
Straight Leg Kick: Modern lifestyle and the chill tends to leave the quads and hamstring tight. To perform the stretch, support your one arm, swing the opposite leg first forward and then backward. Try to keep the leg straight as it moves forward and backward. Just be careful not to kick too hard, which would turn this from a dynamic stretch into “ballistic” stretch, which means the range of motion is beyond what you can handle comfortably. Your core stability is called for in this stretch.
Arm Circles: Your shoulder has the largest range of motion of any joint in your body, so it’s imperative to properly warm it up. Raise your arms to your sides at shoulder height, parallel to the floor, palms facing down. Keeping your shoulders relaxed and arms straight, circle your arms, starting with small movements and gradually increasing until the circles are as large as possible. Now change direction, continuing with the large circles and gradually decreasing their size until the arms become motionless again. Then place your arms to the sides and relax.
Shoulder Wings: Bend your arms and bring your fingertips to the tops of your shoulders, with your elbows facing forward. Press your elbows together, expanding your back and separating the shoulder blades. Now slowly begin to circle with the elbows as if they were wings. Draw them up in the front, then circle back, lowering the elbows as the shoulder blades are drawn together. Finally, draw the elbows forward to the starting position. Circle 3 times in each direction.
Forward Lunge: This dynamic stretching exercise helps loosen up your psoas and hips, while engaging your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and even calves. Just remember to complete this exercise slow and controlled to really feel the stretch and reach with your arm. Start forward lunges by standing tall with your feet together, hands on your hips, and head neutral. Take a large step forward with your left leg and bend your left knee to a 90-degree angle. This lunge action lowers your back knee toward the floor. Push with your left leg and return to standing, feet side-by-side. Repeat 3 times and then perform with the other leg forward.
Side Lunge Stretch: While performing the Lunge side ways, take your right elbow and bring it as close to your heel as possible as if you are lunging with your right leg. By just touching your heel with the opposite hand, you still get a nice groin stretch. Repeat with alternate leg and arm.
Side Leg Raises: While facing a wall or support, place both hands against it for support. Swing one leg at a time from side to side in front of your other leg. Try not to let your torso rotate as you do this stretch. Stretch both legs 20 reps each.
Hand walk: To begin with, stand up straight with your feet together. Slowly bend forward until your hands reach the ground, walk your hands forward until your body is almost parallel with the ground and then slowly walk you feet back up to your hands. Repeat 6-8 times. Feel the stretch in your shoulder, legs, back and arms.
Power Skip: Using big arms swings and high knee lifts try to skip on each side. This is a warm up for explosive movement. You can repeat 10-20 times.
Neck Rotation/flexion: Keeping your head straight and looking ahead, turn your chin laterally toward your left shoulder and then rotate it toward your right shoulder, 6 to 10 times. For lateral flexion, lower your left ear toward your left shoulder and then your right ear to your right shoulder 6 to 10 repetitions.
While some muscle aches or discomforts are to be expected when you work out, pain is not. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. If you continue exercising through pain, you risk injury. And if you have an injury, take some time off. You risk more damage and your recovery will take longer if you don’t!
Note: Observe your breathing. Soften the sides of the rib cage and abdomen, and allow the breathe to flow smoothly and evenly. Maintain your breathe awareness throughout the exercises and as you rest between the poses.