Dynamic Stretching Routine

The new—more effective—way to warm up.

By Selene Yeager
dynamic stretch forward and back leg kick warm up sports exercise fitness injury
Photograph: Illustrated by Brown Bird Design

Warming up with static stretching is so passé. What’s more effective? Dynamic stretching. Research shows it boosts performance more than static stretching or no stretching at all before exercise and may even prevent injuries. For a basic routine that will prepare you for jogging, power walking, elliptical training, or nearly any other cardio exercise, Meghan Kennihan, certified NASM personal trainer and USA Track and Field Coach with Well-Fit Triathlon and Training in Chicago, recommends the following routine. For each move, start small and gradually increase your range of motion as far as comfortably possible.

Forward and Back Kicks (left): Hold onto a stable surface; keep your upper body still, and swing your right leg forward and back 20 times, loosening your glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors. Switch sides.

Side Leg Swings: Hold onto a stable surface; keep your upper body still, and swing your right leg across your body and then out to the side 20 times, loosening up you’re hips and iliotibial band.Switch sides.

Frankenstein Walks: Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward with your left foot and swing your right leg in the air as high as possible. While keeping your legs straight, reaching forward with your left hand to meet your right foot. Repeat with your left foot and right hand. Continue alternating legs for 20 steps.

Ankle circles: Stand and hold onto a stable surface for balance if needed. Lift right foot off the ground and circle it in each direction 10 times. Switch legs.

Knee Rolls: Stand with your feet together and hands on your hips. Make clockwise circles with your knees for 10 circles. Then do 10 counterclockwise circles.

Hula Circles: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands on your hips. Circle your hips like you’re hula hoping in a clockwise direction for 10 circles. Switch direction for 10 circles.

Arm Windmills: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and make big circles with your arms, swinging them forward 10 times. Then reverse directions for 10 circles.

Sky Reach: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Reach your right arm out to the side and up overhead, reaching toward the sky. Lower and repeat with the left arm. Alternate for 20 reaches.

Helicopter: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Extend arms out to the sides and twist your torso side to side 20 times.

NEXT: Essential Static Stretches

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First Published May 17, 2011

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