by Kevin Norris PT, DPT, CSCS
Physical Therapist and Movement Specialist serving North Creek, Mill Creek and Bothell

A proper warm-up routine is a vital component of any athletic participation. The intent of this activity is two-fold: 1) warm the body’s muscles and soft tissues for optimum performance and 2) reduce the risk of injury from overloading inadequately prepared muscles.

Traditional warm-up routines have incorporated static stretches. These prolonged holds are designed to increase the length and flexibility of specific muscles or muscle groups. Recent evidence, however, suggests that static stretching prior to activity actually inhibits performance. Static stretches are still useful as part of a cool-down routine, but doing them as part of a warm-up may actually be more detrimental than beneficial.

A ‘dynamic warm-up’ or ‘dynamic flexibility routine’ is a more useful way of preparing the body for athletic involvement. Dynamic stretches target the same muscle groups, but instead incorporate more movement and shorter holds. The intent of these movements is to promote muscular flexibility in a way that prepares the body for similar movements during the activity or sport.

All exercises should be performed pain free. If you are experiencing pain with any of the below exercises the sensation of a stretch, check your form and try the exercise again. If you continue to have pain, stop performing the exercise and contact our North Creek/Mill Creek location (425-424-3924) to schedule a free consultation with our physical therapy movement specialist for further guidance.

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Runner’s Stride

Standing on one foot, swing one leg forward and backward while trying to keep your back from moving. If you feel your back flexing/extending, the movement is coming primarily from your low back and not your hip. Perform 30-40 swings on each side.

Dynamic Flexibility Routine

Lateral Lunges

Stand with feet wider than shoulder width. Shift your weight over the Left foot into a lunge position. Make sure to feel the stretch on your inner thigh of the straight leg. Shift back and forth between this position 10-20 times each side.

Dynamic Flexibility Routine

Forward Walking Lunge With Twist

Step forward with your left leg into a lunge position. Lower yourself to where your knee is flexed comfortably. Rotate to your left, return to face forward. Stand up and step forward onto your right foot. Rotate right, return to face forward and stand up. Alternating on each side, repeat 10-20 times.

Dynamic Flexibility Routine

Punter’s Walk

Without allowing your low back to flex forward, swing your straight leg upwards until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your thigh. Alternating between sides, perform 30-40 swings.

Dynamic Flexibility Routine

Hip Openers

Imagine a clock face on the floor in front of you. Standing on one foot, bring your knee up so that it is parallel with the floor and pointing to 12 o’clock. Move to three o’clock (or as far as your hips will allow you to) and place your foot on the floor at 3 o’clock. Alternating between sides, retrace your path back to twelve and repeat 20 times on each side.

Dynamic Flexibility Routine