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Prepping to Move

Nothing gets you ready to move like dynamic stretching — large, controlled, repetitive movements that take your joints through a large range of motion.

Depending on your goals and fitness level, these moves can be relatively low intensity (think ankle or wrist circles), high intensity (walking lunges, jumping jacks, and inchworms), or somewhere in between.

The benefits are many. “Dynamic stretching is something I do before all exercise,” says Mike Thomson, CSCS, USATF, a Life Time personal trainer. “It’s good for taking the joints and muscles through their full range of motion,” as well as increasing blood flow and instilling good movement patterns. “It’s also beneficial for the brain to know it’s game time.”

The best time to do dynamic stretching is prior to working out, when you’re trying to ramp up your muscles and nervous system to perform high-tension, high-intensity exercise with a large range of motion. After a few minutes, you’ll feel warmer, looser, more aligned, and ready to attack your workout.

It’s also a great option whenever you need a shot of energy during the day.

One caveat: Good form is essential. This type of warm-up requires substantial control and stability. In general, that means your hips and shoulders should be square, your neck should be aligned with your spine, your shoulders should be relaxed, and your breath should be smooth and continuous. Twisting, shrugging, bending, and holding your breath are all compensations for limited movement in the target area, explains John Rusin, DPT, CSCS, PPSC.

The first few times you perform the moves below, use a mirror: They should look and feel smooth and athletic. If you can’t manage these (or any other) dynamic stretches with control and precision, stick to static stretches until you’ve become more comfortable in the correct positions.

This was excerpted from “Stretch Your Fitness” which was published in the April 2021 issue of Experience Life magazine.

Andrew
Andrew Heffernan

Andrew Heffernan, CSCS, is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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