Why should I warm up before I exercise?
Does warming up really do any good? I think it all depends on what exactly you decide to do for your warmup.
I decided to subject my client Corinne to a slow motion video analysis. It was a beautiful day, and she was having knee trouble, and frustrated with running longer distances. I asked her what she did for a warmup, and she said “a little bit of stretching”.
(Sidebar: Remember, static stretching DECREASES the number of NMU’s you have available. Neuromuscular units. When you first start to exercise, you want to INCREASE your NMUs.
Please don’t static stretch until AFTER you are done! )
To see where she started, we decided to do a before and after video, and even videos after each exercise to see what impact that exercise made.
Here is what she looked like having just jumped out of her car without any warmup whatsoever.
We were pressed for time, and I wanted to create a moving warmup that she could do literally on the fly. I have three favorite hip muscles that I spend 80% of my day working on with everyone, so believe it or not, we targeted those right away.
Exercise #1 – Walk sideways:
(An old favorite!) Moving to the left, drive through the right heel as you feel the right glute engage. Make sure both glutes are working equally… if you feel a discrepancy, then spend time on the glute that needs to work more.
Exercise #2 – Pump up your hip flexor
In this case she is walking backwards, and lifting one foot in line with the hip (actually err to the midline of the body) up to about ninety degrees. Feel that hip flexor in the front of the crease of the hip, relax your foot, and make sure both sides are working equally.
Exercise #3 – Walking Hamstring Curls
Walk and bring your heel to your hip. Anchor the movement with your glute, so contract your glute as you lift your heel and feel the back of legs working equally. There are three hamstrings, and hopefully you will feel all three working across the entire back of the leg.
Now watch what happens when she runs after working on these three simple exercises:
She looks like a totally different runner! She’s got bounce rather than a shuffle, her legs are extending much further back, her upper body isn’t so stiff and leaning forward as much, and she said it felt easier and looser. All good stuff, and not really all that time-consuming or rocket science to execute! 🙂
What then is the logical conclusion?
YEA~! Warm up!
Do it dynamically, and target big powerful hip muscles that directly impact your movement. Try the ones listed above, or let me know your favorites and how that works for you in the comments below!