If you did not know already, Elite’s physical therapy and training staff are offering COMPLIMENTARY athlete injury risk assessments to all current, new clients or athletes for the ENTIRE month of October to celebrate National Physical Therapy Month!
A key component of any workout is a dynamic warm-up. In simple terms, a dynamic warm-up is “moving while you stretch” or stretching through a joint’s full range of motion and preparing muscles for more intense exercise to come. A dynamic warm-up promotes blood flow, helps PREVENT INJURY and muscle soreness, as well as helps improve overall performance. The key is to practice these consistently and to make sure it is progressive, so the body can adapt as you challenge it with new exercises.
These are a key aspect to ANY session performed at Elite (whether it’s our strength-based or speed & agility (S.P.A.R.) sessions). If you / your child have ever participated in any of our programmings, you have performed these! Throughout National Physical Therapy month, Elite Sports Performance & Physical Therapy – Foxboro will be demonstrating some of our favorites on our social media pages! Be sure to check them out!
This exercise will help improve the functional range of motion and stability of the ankle, as well as, strengthen the muscles around the shin to reduce shin splints.
Start off by standing with good posture, chest up & out and shoulders back. Raise both of your toes off the ground. Step forward with your right leg and drive your heel into the ground. Keep the toes pointed upwards at all times. This will help strengthen your tibialis anterior, the muscle around the front of your shin. Then step forward with your left leg and continue this process for a total of 20 yards.
This exercise will help strengthen your calf muscles and also increase the functional range of motion and stability of the ankle joint.
Start off by standing with good posture, chest up & out and shoulders back. Raise both of your heels off the ground, balancing on the balls of your feet. Step forward with your right leg, driving the ball of your foot into the ground. Toes should be pointed down. This will activate and isolate your calf muscles. Then step forward with your left leg and continue this process for a total of 20 yards.
Knee Hugs or Knee to Chest Walks
This exercise will help improve the functional range of motion of the lower back and hip flexor muscles, as well as, enhance balance and postural control. This is a great glute stretch!
Start off shoulders back, chest up & out. Lift your right knee and grab it with both hands pulling it high and close to your chest. At the same time, lift your left hell (plantarflexion/calf raise) keeping good posture. Hold the position for 2 – 3 seconds. Slowly let go of your right knee, take a step forward with the left leg and repeat this process. Perform this exercise for a total of 20 yards. Try not to take too many steps in between sets to make sure you get the most bang for your buck (or butt!)
Walking Quad Stretch
This exercise will focus on your quadriceps and hip flexor muscles to help improve balance and stability.
Start off with good posture, chest up & out and shoulders back. Bend your right knee and grab your ankle behind you with your right hand as you pull your heel into your gluteus muscle. At the same time, rise up onto the ball of your left foot. Repeat this process for a total of 20 yards.
Straight-Leg March or Russians or Frankenstein March (’tis the season!)
Scare your friends and warm up your hamstrings at the same time with this move! This exercise will help develop lower back and hamstring flexibility. Whether you’re a star marathon runner or simply walking to school every day; whether it’s the first thing you notice waking up in the morning or the last thing that’s keeping you from crossing the finish line, you’re likely to experience some level of hamstring tightness from time to time.
Again, start off with good posture, chest up & out and shoulders back. Hold both arms out in front of you and kick with your right leg straight out in front of you (try not to bend your knee!), foot flexed, trying to touch your fingertips to your fingers while maintaining proper posture and engaging your core. Lower your right leg. Once your right leg touches the floor, repeat on the left leg. It’s important that you perform this exercise in slow, controlled motion. Your leg should only go up as high as it feels comfortable. Repeat this exercise for a total of 20 yards.
Inverted Hamstring Stretch
This exercise will help to improve the dynamic flexibility of your lower back and hamstrings, as well as, ankle stability and balance. As you know from our “Straight Leg March” — Lots of patients at Elite present with lower back pain, typically this is due to tight, stiff and/or weak hamstring muscles. Research has shown that the lack of flexibility in the hips (hamstring, hip flexors, glutes muscles) can contribute to lower back pain. To help prevent back pain, it is important to improve your flexibility in the hamstrings.
Start off standing upright with shoulders back and chest up & out. Lift your right foot slightly off the floor. Without changing the angle of your left knee, bend your hips and lower your torso as far as you can. As you bend over, lift up your arms straight out to your sides until they are in line with your torso. Turn your palms to face up. Return back to the starting position. Perform this exercise on both sides for approximately 20 yards.
This classic exercise will help increase the functional range of motion in your rotational muscles (i.e obliques/abdominals) and hip flexors. It also enhances strength in the quad, glutes, and core.
Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward, taking an over-exaggerated step with your right leg to initiate the lunge. Keep your shoulders back, chest up & out, while bending the right knee 90 degrees. Do NOT allow your right knee to pass in front of your toes and your left knee should come about one to two inches from the floor in-line with the hip, but not quite touch the ground! While in this lunge position, lean forward slightly at your hips. Keep your core engaged and twist at your waist so that your left elbow moves towards your right knee. While still in the lunge, rotate back to the center. Firmly plant the right foot into the ground and pull your body weight forward. As you bring yourself to an upright position and begin to center your weight over the right leg, bring the left leg off the ground and slowly swing it forward to initiate the next lunge. Continue alternating each leg as you perform this exercise for about 20 yards in distance.
If you haven’t started to notice, the dynamic warm-up exercises are beginning to build on one another & have become a bit more challenging! You may start to sweat if you begin to add all these exercises together to form a routine – ideally about 10 minutes in length. It may take a while to learn how to perform some of these exercises properly or even get through them all— so Elite has implemented them in smaller steps and we keep adding as our return to sports athletes and patients learn. Keep in mind, it’ll be worth it in the end!
This exercise will help develop the mobility of the hip, as well as, functional range of motion in the groin, hamstrings, and glutes.
Start in the athletic position, like you’re ready to play defense in basketball! Take a medium size step with your right leg and keep your right foot facing forward. Slowly lower your hips in line with the right knee. Getting low, keep your hips back and holding this position for one to two seconds — this will stretch our your adductors and hip muscles. Be sure to keep your chest up & out and your shoulders back. Bring your left foot under your body and repeat the movement on the left side. Perform 20 yards on each side.
*To advance this exercise: Add in the IT-band stretch, by pushing your hips forward and reaching out overhead once you return from the lunge, to get the best lateral hip stretch! Demonstrated beautifully by one of Elite’s trainers, Katie!
Some kids may dress up like this character for Halloween, Elite chooses to incorporate this character into their dynamic warm-ups… Can you guess what it might be? We’ll give you a hint, it’s the third day of lunges!
This is an effective and efficient hip opener and quadriceps stretch that you should be including in your warm-up. It’s simple and will help you prepare for exercise, maybe even reduce stress during your school day, or can be used as a quick mobility drill throughout the day.
Similar to our previous exercise: ‘Rotational Lunge’ (scroll up to review!) Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward, taking an over-exaggerated step with your right leg to initiate the deep lunge, slightly away from the mid-line. Do NOT allow your right knee to pass in front of your toes and your left knee should come about one to two inches from the floor, but not quite touch the ground! While in this extended lunge position, lean forward slightly at your hips. Keep your core engaged and plant both hands beneath your shoulders, inside of the knee. Take the left hand (or the hand opposite of the bent leg) rotating through the upper back and reach up towards the ceiling, this also mobilizes the lumbar and thoracic spine. Be sure to keep your back leg straight and your hand planted next to your front leg to get the most beneficial best stretch! Bring the back leg to meet the front by slowly swinging it forward to initiate the next lunge. Continue alternating each leg as you perform this exercise for about 20 yards in distance.*To advance this exercise: Add a hamstring stretch, by rocking your hips back in the deep lunge position and straightening the front leg, balancing on the heel. (2nd Image)
There are two more exercises we’ll provide to wrap up the month, but plenty more to share down the road!
Bounders or Power Skips
This exercise helps improve lower body power and increase the functional range of motion in the hip flexors and calves. It also helps implement sound mechanics prior to the activity.
Start off with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your shoulders back, chest up & out. Start with your right leg driving your right knee up as high as possible in a skipping motion. At the same time, bend your left arm at approximately 90 degrees. Your left leg should be straight and your right elbow should be by your side. Land on the ball of your left foot and repeat this skipping motion with the opposite arm and leg. Perform this exercise for about 20 yards. Skip and reach as high as you can!
While dreaded by many, this warm-up helps stretch your calves, hamstrings and lower back, as well as works your core strength and shoulder stability.
Start in a high push-up position keeping your legs straight and toes driving into the ground. Next, bring your heels in contact with the ground by walking your toes towards your planted hands. Keeping your back and legs straight, continue to slowly walk your feet as close as possible, not allowing your knees to bend! This is not quite a “tip-toe” as it is an actual step (this will act as an added calf stretch!) Once you have your feet as close to your hands as comfortably possible, slowly walk your hands back to the starting high push-up position. Repeat this exercise for 10 – 15 yards. To advance this exercise: Add a push-up in between each high to low sequence!
Our dynamic warm-up sequence has come to a close… Were you able to successfully complete all the exercises? Do you feel like you’ve increased your body temperature? Share any additional exercises you perform prior to participating in your sport.
*Keep in mind, all these exercises help to PREVENT INJURY and muscle soreness, as well as improve overall athletic performance. Again, the key is to practice these exercises consistently and to make sure it is progressive, so the body can adapt as you challenge it!