Over the past few weeks I’ve explained why static stretching before exercise isn’t a good idea (especially this stretch); however, a warm-up is vital. Exercise scientists agree that warming up the muscles and joints prior to heavy exercise definitely reduces risk of injury and often even soreness. The main purposes of the warmup are to: a) generate heat which will make the muscles more pliable and result in increased blood and nutrient flow; b) prepare the joints for forceful contractions by moving them through a full range of motion. I’ve had a few questions about what exercises would be good for warming up.
Below, my interns and I have created a warm-up especially for Fit For Duty Consulting followers. With just 6 exercises, the shoulders, hips and knees move through a full range of motion while these light, body weight exercises generate the heat needed to prepare the muscles for a more difficult workout. We also placed special emphasis on getting the hips and hamstrings limber, since tightness in this area may contribute to back injuries in firefighters (more about that here). Enjoy!
1. High knees in place– Standing with your hands on your hips, raise each knee above your waist and back to the ground. Complete at least 20 on each leg
2. Arm circles– Holding your arms as a T, rotate your arms in circles, forward and backward. Complete at least 30 seconds in each direction.
3. Wall sit– Sit against a wall with your knees and hips flexed at 90 degrees. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat once or twice more.
4. Downward facing dog– Start on all fours. Set your knees below your hips and hands slightly forward of your shoulders. While exhaling, lift your knees off the floor, straightening your legs and lengthening the spine. You may feel a stretch in the shoulders, back and hamstrings as you push your shoulders toward your knees. Stay here for 5-10 seconds, come back down, and repeat, keeping the movement fluid.
5. Plank with alternating knees – Begin in a “Plank” position on hands (top of a push-up). While holding the plank, bring a knee in towards the opposite shoulder, then set the foot back down and alternate with the other knee. Make sure to keep your back flat and your core tight throughout the exercise.
6. Single Leg Squat with hip stretch– Start by balancing on one leg. Then, placing one foot on the opposite knee, slowly squat down. Make sure to bend at the waist, pushing your hips back and keeping your chest (fairly) upright. Do 10 times, switch legs and repeat.
Leave me your questions below! ~Karlie
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