When we were little, we could run around all we wanted without taking the time to warm up. We learned stretches in school, but they didn’t seem that important. However, that doesn’t last! Our bodies need warmups more the older we get, and sometimes we have to learn the hard way. Warmups don’t just make a workout feel good; they prevent injuries and allow your body to give its best performance…if you do them correctly. Unfortunately, if you warm up incorrectly, you can end up hurting more than helping yourself.
Chances are good that you learned static warm ups in P.E. class. However, you won’t find kids learning the same warmups today. That is because the way we warm up has changed a lot in the past few years. We have moved away from static warmups in favor of active warmups. What do we mean?
You probably remember these warmups from middle school P.E. class. They involve gradually stretching the muscle out and holding it that way for up to 30 seconds. These stretches release tension and make the muscles less vulnerable to strains and pulls.
As the name suggests, these aren’t positions you find and hold; you’re moving the whole time. These warmups usually involve lunges, trunk rotations, and shoulder rolls. They can extend to jogging, agility drills, springs, and other light-effort exercises with low impact. Rather than simply releasing tension like static warmups do, active warmups prime the body for action.
Why Active Warmups are the best choice pre-workout
Dynamic warm up exercises, especially ones that include stretching, tell your body to get ready for more rather than relaxing it into stillness. Active warmups increase blood flow, wake up your nervous system, and boost power, strength, and range of motion. You definitely want these benefits on the front end of any workout whether it’s a solo run, lifting, or playing your favorite team sport.
Active warm-ups protect you from injury and improve performance
Multiple studies have shown that active warmups designed to target balance, core stability, strength, and hip and knee durability have a hugely positive impact. Not only do they markedly reduce chances of injury, they result in better performance whether that is speed, agility, or muscle gain.
What do active warm ups look like?
Active warmups can be anything from lunges or jogging, but there are a couple of exercises we recommend to get your whole body ready to perform.
- Stand nice and tall with your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your knees are slightly bent; you never want to lock your knees. Lift your arms straight out the sides and bend your elbows 90 degrees. Keep your palms facing the floor. Leading with your shoulders, pivot on the ball of your right foot and rotate your torso away from it, to the left. Reverse the motion and go back and forth, making sure you get a good twist.
- Stand tall with your feet hip or shoulder length apart. Engage your core to keep your back flat as you raise your arms out in front of you and sink down, pushing your hips back and bending your knees. Do it in front of a mirror and make sure your thighs go parallel to the ground before you straighten back up into the starting position.
- You can keep your hands on your hips for this one. Your feet should be hip-width apart. Take a large step forward and lower yourself until the thigh in front of you is parallel to the ground. Make sure you engage your core and keep your torso up straight. Your back knee should hover a few inches off the ground. Pause for a second and then reverse the motion. This will take you back to the starting position, where you can switch legs and do it again.
Does static stretching have a place?
Absolutely! When it comes to post-workout cool downs, static stretching delivers great results and actually can be responsible for preventing stiffness the next morning. Take your time with these stretches, enjoying the relaxation that comes after doing a hard workout.
Questions? Contact our personal training team in Cramston today!