After years of playing soccer, long-distance running, and having poor posture holding babies, I’ve learned my body not only wants — but DEMANDS a proper warm up before I participate in any type of training. I’ve written in the past about different types of warm ups. There is a time and place for all types of warm ups– from a dynamic warm up to a basic slower cardiovascular warm up, depending on the activity you’re doing.
The 5 exercises I chose are warm up exercises that target areas that typically don’t fire as well as they need to. Case example — the gluteus medius is an area of the glute responsible for helping to stabilize the hips and the knees. When someone has an ankle sprain, many times this area will be inhibited. Doing what you can to engage that area (here, the glute med) as best you can (pre-run or pre-activity) will help you create more efficient movement and avoid future injuries.
1. Side Stepping - While you can do this with a band or on the treadmill, I like doing this one outside, paying attention, of course, to uneven surfaces. Simply take lateral steps paying attention to the feet staying in alignment with the knees and the hips not hiking with your steps. (Perform 2-5 minutes/side.) Extra: add in walking backwards (2-5 minutes).
2. Inchworms to Plank - Start in a plank and inch the feet toward the hands keeping the legs as tight as possible. Keep the feet flexed and lift the leg from the hip with each step. Walk (vs. slide) the hands out to a plank. (1 set x10). Advanced: Add in an alternating hip extension – raise one leg, then the other before extending. You could also add in a push up or even a push up with rotation.
3. Single Leg Lateral Tap Down - Stand with right foot on a curb or step. Keep left foot flexed up. Place hands on hips and keeping the hips level, drop your left heel toward the ground bending the right knee. Drive through the glute to come back up. Keep hips level the entire time. (1 set x15-20)
4. Tube UBE - This one simulates the upper body ergometer, a great exercise for the shoulders and middle back that not everyone has access to. Using a tube, go through a UBE circular movement with one arm initiating a forward phase while the other goes backwards.
5. Static Back - A favorite of many of my clients (since all they have to do is lay there!) The settling of the back is a great feeling, since most if not all of us fight to stay symmetrical. Lie on back with legs up at 90 degrees – either on a couch or chair. Rear end should be touching the couch or chair. Keeping hands at 45 degrees and palms facing out, simply relax in the position.
Regardless of what your sport is, most of us have areas that struggle to get and stay engaged, especially when we add in high intensity training. To create the most efficient movement, the muscles of the body must contract and co-contract optimally. Performing dynamic work and alignment exercises like these is certain to help.
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