Preparing your body properly for physical activities is very important.
Getting warmed up and ready will both improve your performance and also help decrease the chance of strain from ill prepared muscles and joints. It’s also psychologically helpful to ease your way into activity, rather than just jumping right into it.
The following warm-up routine is one that I’ve put together as a general warm-up before I start my training sessions or before any other physical activity if I feel like I need a bit of preparation beforehand.
What You’re Getting Yourself Into
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There likely isn’t anything “new” here for those familiar with the various flexibility and mobility movements that abound in the information heavy world in which we live. But I’ve compiled these from my experience in my own training and in teaching others.
Below we have our talented certified GMB Trainer, Jeannie Landis demonstrating the movements for us.
Watch the videos and read the details on the exercises below, and get your body prepared for whatever comes your way!
Step One: Start with Your Neck
We’ll begin at the neck. Seated or standing comfortably, these cardinal and combined movement patterns help decrease tension and explore your current ranges of motion.
- Keep your eyes level and simply swivel your head back and forth.
- Lead with your eyes and chin and look over your shoulder as far as is comfortable.
- Next, tilt your head form side to side, imagining that the axis of rotation is right at your nose and you are revolving your head around it.
- Let the weight of your head gently take your ear down towards your shoulder.
Flexed with Rotations
- Now tuck your chin down to your chest in a comfortable position, and rotate your head in this position.
- As in the first exercise, lead with your eyes and chin. With the head flexed, this lends a different pull on the neck and upper back muscles.
Flexed and Rotated with Sidebending
- Keeping your head tucked down towards your chest, go to the furthest point of rotation you can and then sidebend your head (remember the axis of rotation is your nose) as much as you can control.
Rotated with Sidebending
- Now bring your head back up to a neutral position and rotate as far as you can in one direction so you can sidebend in that position.
Step Two: Move Down Your Spine
Keeping at the center of the body we now move on to the rest of the spine for upper, middle, and lower back work through all of the planes of motion.
Kneeling Back Flexion to Prone Lying Back Extension
- This is a full spinal movement taking you back and forth from a flexed to an extended position.
- Visualize “opening” your back in the kneeling position and then “opening” the front of your body in the lying extended posture.
- Go slow and steady and feel where in your back is holding the most tension.
Spine Sidebending “Wag The Tail”
- Continuing on in a quadrupedal position (on hands and knees), bring your knees together so you can swivel on them to being your spine from side to side.
- The action is bending so you bring your shoulder and hip closer together and then switch to the other side. Wag your tail!
- Stay in the same position and now trace a circle with your back.
- Imagine taking one point in the middle of your back and making as large a circle as you can.
- Again, go slow and steady and ferret out the most tight areas of your spine.
Sidelying Spine Sidebend and Rotation
- Next, find a comfortable position lying on your side with your knees bent and your hands supporting you so you can go from lying to sitting up on your side.
- Keep your hips and pelvis down and push up into a sidebend and once you are in that position, rotate towards your top arm.
- These combined movements help you go into the full ranges of your spinal mobility.
Step Three: Finish Up with Everything Else
This last video takes us into the final sequence of the routine to our hips, shoulders and arms.
- Stride out into a kneeling lunge, where you have a wide enough base with your knees apart to be comfortable moving back and forth.
- Make sure to give yourself enough room to move by having your front foot far enough forward so that your knee is just over your foot when you lunge forward.
- Keep your upper body tall for balance and proper positioning.
Hip Rotations in Squat
- Next go into as deep a squat as you can comfortably.
- Feel free to use a support in front of you (such as a steady object like a chair, or a suspension device like a strap or rope).
- The emphasis is not so much the squat as it is the rotation of your knee going in and outward. Do not force this movement! Play with how much you can rotate but don’t push farther than you are capable.
Cross Arm Stretch
- Moving back into a kneeling position, bring your arm across your chest perpendicular to your body.
- Lean forward and place as much weight as you are comfortable with to stretch the back of your shoulder as you roll onto your arm.
- Now move onto your hands and knees, supporting yourself on arm arm while the other elbow drives back and around for the rotation.
- Keep your back level and turn your head to look where you are rotating.
Alternating Shoulder Prayer Stretch
- Sit your hips back as far as you can onto your feet and keep your hands outstretched.
- From here, alternate bringing your elbow towards the floor. You can rotate your body a bit to make that happen, but make most of the motion happen at the elbow to stretch your shoulders and lats.
Finger and Wrist Stretches
- Now finish up the routine with finger and wrist stretches, with your hands and fingers in different positions – fingers forward, fingers back, and on the backs of the wrists – only putting as much weight as is tolerable through the hands.
- Lean back onto your knees as necessary.
How to Use This Warm-Up Routine
Because they are often neglected in our daily movements (or non-movement), you’ll notice that there is an emphasis on spinal movements in this sequencing. It also follows a general “center to outward” pattern, which is an efficient way to build upon movements and the beginning of the routine warms you up for the rest of it.
At a good steady pace with no rush, this routine takes about 10 minutes of your time, and you can definitely make it shorter or longer depending upon your needs at the moment.
In general, 5 controlled and steady repetitions is a good start for all of the movements, along with a short 5 second hold at the end-range position. Again, you are in control here and you can do more or less depending on how much time you have and what you feel you need to work on more to adequately prepare your body for the work ahead.
Each repetition serves as a warm-up for the next one, and you should feel as if you are moving better as you continue on. If you feel strain and tension, then you are likely pushing too much for that range and are better off dialing it down.
Get Your Body Prepared
This warm-up routine takes you through a variety of movements to prepare you for more strenuous physical activities, or it can even just be used as a quick routine to get your body moving when you need it.
There are of course dozens of other stretches and mobility exercises you can perform and I’m sure many of you can rightly say “you forgot about (blank) and (blank)!” And if that’s the case feel free to add those in to your routine.
The purpose of this sequence is not to be an exhaustive encyclopedic list of movement patterns.
Instead, it’s a quick and easy routine that is efficient and effective for prepping your body for harder work. It can also serve as an on the spot assessment for what body areas would benefit from more time and energy prior to your training.
Give this a try before your next workout session and see how your body feels!
A generalized movement routine such as this can provide you with clues to areas that you need more work on. You’ll then benefit from a targeted approach such as is taught in our Focused Flexibility program.
Get More Flexible Where You Need It
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