Dynamic Warm-Ups

Author: Ruben Salinas, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

Author: Ruben Salinas, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS

Ruben Salinas is the founder and president of Salinas PT.

Warming up is always important, regardless of the activity. It gradually raises your heart rate and gets you breathing a little faster. The warm-up process sends more oxygen, energy, and nutrients to your heart, lungs, and muscles so they can perform at their best. But, long gone are the days of static, hold for 10-second stretching. Your warm-up process should be dynamic. Dynamic warm-ups are the best way to get the aerobic energy system started and prepare your body for activity, especially when it’s cold out. In this article, we’ll cover why dynamic warm-ups are important for injury prevention and strategies that you can implement during your next routine.

Why Warm-Up?

Our bodies have a few tricks to conserve energy and stay warm in the cold. One of these is to narrow the blood vessels closest to the skin. That means that the more superficial muscles get less blood flow, making them more likely to be injured if too much demand is placed on them before they’re ready. The restriction in the blood vessels also makes your heart work harder. This doesn’t mean you can’t be active in the cold, it just means that you should take more time getting your body ready.

Dynamic Warm Up

Implementing a Dynamic Warm-up

Dynamic warm-up’s can be implemented for just about every type of physical activity. We suggest starting with movements that raise your heart rate like a brisk walk, a light jog, or even skipping. For more conditioned athletes, we’ll have them do movements like back pedaling, side pedaling, and karaoke running drillsOnce your heart rate becomes elevated, follow up with dynamic stretching.

Follow with Dynamic Stretching

  1. Walking – Knees to Chest: In a standing position, bring one knee up towards your chest and pull your legs towards your chest for a brief period and release. Alternate this movement between your left and right leg up to 5 repetitions on each side. 
  2. Walking – Hip Cradle: In a standing position, lift your ankle up towards your hips and grab your ankle with both hands. You should feel the stretch in your hips. Alternate this movement between left and right ankle up to 5 repetitions on each side.
  3. Front Kicks:  With your knees almost straight, kick one leg forward to loosed your ham-strings. Alternate between each leg up to 5 repetitions on each side. If balance is a challenge, use one arm to stabilize yourself against a wall or post. 
  4. Lunges with a Twist: Stand with your feet parallel and take an exaggerated step forward. Once your leading foot is firmly planted, allow your knee and hip to bend slowly into a lunging position. Aim to keep your knee directly over your ankle. From this position extend your opposite arm overhead for a side stretch. 

Dynamic Warm-up Example: Tennis

Consider Your Clothes in the Cold

During the cooler winter months, we suggest dressing in layers so you can adjust your clothing to your activity level. After you warm up, you might want to take off a layer to avoid getting too hot during your main activity. You can always add layers back when your activity level drops or the temperature changes.

Cooling Down

It’s tempting to rush inside to a warm blanket and hot drink, but don’t skip the cool-down. Keep moving with a light walk or another form of active recovery so your heart rate can come down gradually. A cool-down also helps your muscles to transition back to a relaxed state and can reduce soreness following your workout. Since your muscles are still warm, your cool-down is the right place for static stretching.


Static Stretching

Static stretching as opposed to dynamic stretching is when you stretch a muscle for a 20- 30 second periods. The purpose of the static stretching is to make sure you return the muscle to its optimal length and limit unwanted tightness and DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) from setting in. 

The shorter days and cooler temperatures don’t mean that you’re stuck inside for all of your exercise. Follow these simple tips to help keep you moving outside and maintaining your fitness routine. If you’d like a customized warm up or cool down, or have questions about your exercise routine, our team of will gladly provide you with the education to help reach your goals.

– In good health

The Salinas Team