Any athletic performance should begin with a proper routine to warm up the muscles and increase joint viscosity. Dynamic stretching is a great pre-exercise warm up to stimulate blood flow, increase body temperature and stretch muscles with coordinated movements. These coordinated movements are a form of stretching while moving, which prepares the body for physical activity and exertion.
A number of studies have shown the benefits of dynamic stretching to enhance performance. Researchers have found exercises that require power and agility report that a dynamic warm up offer performance benefits over traditional static stretching. Dynamic stretching lowers lactate concentration, increases oxygen uptake, body temperature and heart rate, which will decrease joint stiffness and prepare the body for physical activities.
Incorporating the dynamic stretching exercises below into your warm up routine for 10-15 minutes will help enhance performance.
Lunge with Trunk Extension & Rotation
Lunge forward in a stable position without resting the knee on the ground. Lean your trunk back to stretch the hip flexor muscle and hold for a moment. Bring your trunk forward, and then rotate your trunk towards the knee that is lunged forward and hold for and moment. Step forward and repeat on the opposite side for the next 10 yards.
Alternate Side Lunges
Lunge to the side by stepping out, slightly leaning your trunk forward and keeping the opposite leg straight. Add your body weight over the bent knee to feel the stretch in your groin muscles, then shift your weight to the opposite leg to perform the lunge on the other side. Once complete, turn your body around facing the other direction and perform the same routine for the next 10 yards.
Straight Leg Walks
Swing your leg straight without bending your knee and try to touch your toes with the opposite hand. Take a step forward and perform the same routine with the opposite leg and you will feel a stretch in your hamstring muscles. Repeat this for the next 10 yards.
Overall fitness takes work and incorporating these routines will prepare your body for activity by stimulating blood flow and warming up the muscles for your workout.
Richard A. Martinez, M.A., ATC