Working out can be an unwanted, tumultuous task. Throw in warming-up before your fitness routine, and working out goes from being tumultuous to downright hostile. And in order to avoid this hostility, many choose to to avoid warming up completely, hoping to get in the fitness routine as quickly as possible to leave as quickly as possible. But with this avoidance comes injury, and with injury comes yet another week out of your fitness routine.
Why is warming up so important?
The purpose of a warm-up is to gently prepare your body for the upcoming exercise routine. This means increasing your heart rate and blood circulation gradually, and loosening the joints to increase blood flow throughout the body. In other words, warming-up can decrease the risk of avoidable fitness injuries, which are mostly the result of tight muscles.
So, before you push your luck and choose to avoid yet another warm up, check out the these ten dynamic stretches to prepare yourself for just about any routine that may come your way.
Brace yourself against a wall or the back of a chair by holding one arm out to the side at shoulder height. Make sure your feet are directly under the hips; then, swing the inside leg forward and backward. Once you get comfortable, gradually increase your range of motion, until your leg swings as high as it can, comfortably. Make sure to alternate between legs, and keep the swinging of your legs controlled. Repeat this exercise for 15-20 seconds a leg.
With your feet shoulder-width apart, extend your arms parallel to the floor. Then, circle your arms forward in a controlled-motion. Throughout the stretch, gradually increase the motion of the exercise, making the circle bigger until the stretch reaches your triceps. Make sure to keep the exercise controlled; if you rotate too rapidly or wide, you can cause injury. After you have stretched fully in one direction, reverse the exercise for 10-15 seconds.
Walking Lunge with Overhead Reach
With your feet shoulder-width apart, step one foot backward while lowering your hips so the front knee bends to 90 degrees and the back knee grazes the floor. Make sure your knee does not go over your foot, this will prevent unnecessary knee injuries. While in position, extend your hands towards the ceiling and rotate your torso toward the front leg. Hold the stretch for five seconds, then return to the starting position. Complete two sets of ten, for each leg.
Alternating Side Lunges
With your feet directly underneath your hips, step your right foot wide to the side, going into a lunge. Make sure that your knees do not go beyond your right toe, this can create knee injuries otherwise. Keep your chest lifted and your weight on your heels, instead of your toes. This can be avoided by sitting into the lunge.
Next, push into your right foot to return to the original standing position. Then, lunge sideways to the left, repeating the same movement to complete in one rep. Complete two sets of ten on each side.
With your feet hip-width apart, move forward, reaching for your toes. From there, moderately walk your body into a plank. Once you're in a planking position, drop your hips down and look up. Afterwards, moderately inch yourself back into the position of touching your toes, then, stand up. Repeat this process eight to ten times. Hold position in planking position if resting is necessary. Complete two sets of ten.
Arm swings are great dynamic stretches that effortlessly engage the muscles in the upper body. In an upright position, stand in a shoulder-width position and place your arms alongside your hips. Slightly push your chest and hips out to ensure a flat back position. Lift your arms to shoulder height, cross your arms over the front of your body, then quickly bring them back as far as you can. Repeat in a side to side, back and forth movement, for two sets of ten.
While standing with your feet hip-width apart and arms resting at your sides, gently tilt your head toward your right shoulder. Try to touch your right ear to your shoulder, without lifting your shoulder. Stop when you feel the stretch, and hold the stretch for five to ten seconds. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat the exercise on the left side for one set of ten.
Hand Clasped Behind Body Stretch
Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart. Clasp your hands behind your back and anchor your shoulder blades downward and lift your chest to feel it open and stretch. While stretching, maintain a neutral spin, stand up straight with eyes lifted up, and a tight core. Hold the stretch for five to ten seconds. Repeat for one set of ten. For a better stretch, bend down completely, turning the face into your legs, while your hand extends beyond your head.
Did you know that xoNecole has a new podcast? Join founder Necole Kane, and co-hosts Sheriden Chanel and Amer Woods, for conversations over cocktails each and every week by subscribing to xoNecole Happy Hour podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Featured image by Shutterstock