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How Are You Warming Up?

Many of us were taught that warming up involves 10 or so minutes of static stretching, or “in-place stretching,” and then you’re good to go. When you hear static stretching, think of your elementary school P.E. class: sitting and reaching for your toes, quad pull, knee hug hold, etc. These stretches can feel good and have their place if done dynamically, as part of a cool down, or as a warmup to a flexibility focused workout like yoga. However, research has demonstrated that static stretching utilized as a warmup for strength/power workouts may actually decrease power output, speed, and explosiveness.

This makes sense. Why would you sit on the ground and touch your toes when no exercise in your workout routine is even remotely similar to this stretch? This goes back to one of Made 2 Move’s mantras that our warmups should mimic our workouts.

Let’s look at an analogy on the concept of pre-workout static stretching. If we wanted to shoot a rubber band across the room with a lot of power, that rubber band would have to be very tight so that it can produce the most power and fly the farthest. If I have a loose, stretched out rubber band, that thing isn’t going to fly very far. When deadlifting or sprinting, the goal is to make the hamstrings produce power/speed. For this to happen, we want the muscles to act as a coil, or loaded rubberband. Stretching our hamstrings pre-workout creates the opposite effect of a loaded rubberband.

The main goal of a warmup is to prepare your body for the workout. If you are not doing movements that mimic what you would do in a workout, you are doing yourself a disservice in terms of the workout’s effectiveness.

Warmups should align with the goals of your workout and reflect what you hope to obtain from the exercise. Enter dynamic warmups, our favorite way to warm up at Made 2 Move. Dynamic warmups can be defined as “a very active warmup protocol where one is in constant or intermittent motion for a prolonged period of time with the objective of producing thermal and neuromuscular changes in the individual that prepares them for the upcoming work.” In layman’s terms, a dynamic warmup is active, elevates the body temperature, and prepares the mind and body for the workout ahead. The objectives of a dynamic warmup are as follows:

  1. Temperature elevation: Temperature elevation is literally “warming up.” Getting our bodies warm is easy here in Charlesotn during the summer months when you break a sweat just walking to your car after your Made 2 Move PT session! Increasing our core body temperature increases muscle viscosity and tendon elasticity. This is going to allow you to not only sit deeper into your , jump higher, move faster, and potentially load more weight on the bar.

  2. Nervous system excitation: Ever thought about the neurological aspect of working out? If you break it down biologically, the first thing that has to happen in order to make a muscle work is that you have to THINK about making the muscle work. This is often done unconsciously, because our brains are just that good. A “warmup set” serves as an adequate neurological primer by introducing your body to the stimulus that is the focus of the training session. For example, a sprinter may warm up with build ups or falling starts before they sprint out of the blocks. Another example would be on a day you are front squatting, warming up with goblet squats and an empty barbell prior to your 5x5 working sets. Myofascial release (think foam rolling, lacrosse ball, massage, dry needling) can also serve as a neurological primer in preparing your body for a workout, so incorporating a few minutes of foam rolling on top of your dynamic warmup routine could be highly effective.

  3. Dynamic Warmups as an Analysis Tool: Dynamic warmups are also useful to the individual, coach, or physical therapist in seeing how the body feels and moves that day. At Made 2 Move, we often use a Rate of Perceived Exertion scale (RPE) instead of a % of a max lift or movement. This gives the physical therapist, coach, and patient the ability to change and modify the weight/intensity based on how the body feels on that given day. If your dynamic warm-up is feeling tough because of a rough night’s sleep, then our Made 2 Move therapist will absolutely change the day’s program in order to meet you where you’re at.

  4. Time for Pre or Rehabilitation Exercises: Here at Made 2 Move, we don’t expect you to come in for physical therapy every day of the week. One of our goals is to equip you with the tools to heal your injury independently. We expect that you are working out on your own, so many times we will prescribe exercises, personalized to your lifestyle, to assist in getting you back to 100%. These exercises serve as a great warmup for your daily workouts outside of physical therapy.

An example dynamic warmup for a leg focused day at the gym:

1. Foam roll for a few minutes. Hop on the bike or rower to see how your legs feel and elevate your core body temperature.

2. Move dynamically: jog, lateral shuffle, hops, high skips, broad jumps, hockey bounds, single leg hops, air squats, etc. to elevate core temperature and excite the nervous system. There are many things you could do here- just get creative and move your body through different planes of motion (side to side, forward/backward, up/down)

3. Hip Rehab exercises as prescribed by your Made 2 Move PT

4. Kettlebell swings and Goblet squats to warm up the posterior chain, introduce load, and prime the body for squats.

5. 5X5 front squats, increasing in weight each time.

Simply put, incorporating a dynamic warmup into your fitness routine just means: move before you MOVE and move in a way that’s similar to what you’re about to do. Developing a warmup routine can be a daunting task, but here at Made 2 Move we find creative and scientifically backed ways to prescribe warmup protocols that align with your goals. Take that first step to get out of pain and reach your full potential: Reach out to today to schedule your initial evaluation!


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