Stretch – Move – Work: The Principles that Underlay an Effective Dynamic Warm-up
The prominence of physical training, wellness, and fitness and/or sports performance has become a very mainstream topic. One common denominator that spans through all of the aforementioned mediums is the importance of a well-executed warm-up routine of some sort. For years the most acceptable warm up strategy for any physical activity was to statically stretch muscles for a few minutes prior to weight training, running, practice or competition. Although static stretching does have its place, the most accepted and effective form of warm-up is referred to as a “dynamic warm-up”.
What is a dynamic warm-up? This is essentially a progressive approach to fully prepare the body to perform and function optimally for a specific task (i.e. weight lifting, running, competitive sports, etc). The philosophy employed at Authentic Performance (APC) follows a continuum of “stretch – move – work”. More succinctly, the goal of the dynamic warm-up is to lengthen or stretch muscle tissues through basic stretching activities (lower body, upper body stretches) and then progress to movement based exercise (shuffles, skips, high knees, heel kicks) and finish with more specific movements that correlate to the activity to be performed. For example, a warm-up for most strength and power sports (football, hockey, lacrosse, etc) may finish with basic quick foot drills like line hops (hopping forward and back quickly over a line) for 10-15 reps. This will help to activate the central nervous system and prepare the athlete to move quickly and explosively.
Ultimately the goal of the dynamic warm-up is to increase blood flow to working muscles and tissues, increase core body temperature, work muscles and joints through full range of motion and effectively activate the central nervous system while enhancing mental awareness and preparedness for the given task to be performed. In doing this you can greatly enhance performance capabilities and attenuate the occurrences of injury.
If a simple approach is followed there are a plethora of options for exercises and movements that can be plugged into the Stretch – Move – Work domain. At APC we utilize up to 10 different types of routines that follow this philosophy which helps to create a more effective preparation from day-to-day by ensuring that athletes and clients must stay engaged in the dynamic warm-up because adjusting routines periodically creates a higher level of focus and attention to the warm up that doing the same routine daily for extended periods of time typically doesn’t achieve.
Below is an example of a dynamic warm-up that demonstrates the aforementioned Stretch-Move-Work approach:
Jog & Back Pedal – 20 yards
Skip forward and backward – 20 yards
Shuffle – left and right with large arm swings – 20 yards
Walking tall knee hugs – 5 each
Walking shin grabs – 5 each
Walking Quad pulls – 5 each
Alternating floor scoop w/ overhead reach (hamstring stretch) – 5 each
Lunge w/ overhead reach – 3 each
Lateral lunge – left and right – 3 each
Overhead squat w/ hand extended overhead – 8
Carioca – 20 yards each
Straight leg march w/ toe touch at hip height – 6 each
Straight leg march w/ skip – 6 each
Running High Knees – 10 yards
Running Heel Kicks – 10 yards
Power Skips – 20 yards
Ankle Hops (pogo’s) – 8
Quick Feet Drills – 5-6 sets (utilizing audio/visual or tactical feedback)