Whether it’s a light day at the gym or a gruesome practice for athletes, a dynamic warm up is essential prior to engaging in any physical activity. The concept of a warm up has been around for many decades, yet individuals today are taking a different approach to the traditional light jog and stretching. The purpose of warming up is to prepare the body to perform physical work by gradually increasing the rate of both breathing and heart rate. In turn, the temperature and blood flow to skeletal muscles will gradually increase, giving the muscles more elasticity to stretch and move.
Now, a dynamic warm up encompasses using various major muscle groups in constant motion, thus preparing the muscles and joints for specific exercises such as squats (Prentice, 2021). Compared to static stretching, this allows the muscles to go through a larger range of motion, giving a more thorough warm up.
The exercises below are designed to be completed before a lower leg workout, specifically squats:
1. Knee Cradle to Single Leg Deadlift
The knee cradle and deadlift stretch the hamstrings, lower back, hip flexors, and glutes while toning the quadriceps, calves, hamstrings, adductors, and all three gluteal muscles. The benefits of performing this warm up includes increasing the mobility of the hip joint as well as alleviating lower back and hip flexor pain.
2. Walking Lunge + Side Bend
The walking lunge stretches the glutes and hip flexors, while toning the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, glutes, and core. Due to the complexity of this movement, it often improves coordination, balance, and asymmetry within the body due to the unilateral movement. The benefits include improved balance, coordination, and posture.
The side bend stretches the abdominal, back and and shoulder girdle muscles, while strengthening the oblique and lower back muscles. The benefits of this warm up includes increased flexibility and stabilization of the core.
3. Dynamic Lateral Lunges
Similar to the walking lunge, the lateral lunge stretches and strengthens the hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps, calves, and core. However, the exception here is lateral lunges also get the inner thigh muscles fired up. The use of the adductor muscles on the inner thigh further increase the level of complexity of this warm up. Lateral lunges are beneficial by increasing core stability and strength as well as increasing hip mobility.
With this in mind, dynamic warm up exercises provide ample benefits for the entire body. Individuals should aim for 5-20 minutes of these exercises based on personal fitness level, age, and goals. To make these exercises more engaging, patients should recruit family or friends to perform this warm up.
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Prentice, W. E. (2021). Principles of athletic training: a guide to evidence-based clinical practice. McGraw-Hill Education. https://player-ui.mheducation.com/.
Lateral flexion (Side Bend) is the BEST lower back pain treatment. (2019, January 4). https://www.pilatesfitness.com.sg/lateral-flexion-side-bend-best-lower-back-pain-treatment/#:~:text=The%20primary%20muscles%20used%20in,Lumborum%20and%20the%20Erector%20Spinae.&text=Quadratus%20Lumborum%20(QL)%20are%20muscles,sides%20of%20the%20lower%20back.
Pedemonte, S. (2021, February 1). How to Perform the Knee to Chest Stretch (Walking Knee Hugs). Your House Fitness. https://www.yourhousefitness.com/blog/knee-to-chest-stretch-walking-knee-hugs.
11 Benefits of Doing Lunges Regularly. Healthline. (2019, April 9). https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/lunges-benefits#overall-benefits.
What Muscles Do Lunges Work? Healthline. (2019, April 9). https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/lunges-muscles-worked#adding-lunges-to-your-routine.