How To Warm Up Before Exercise: Save The Stretching For Last!
A common question fitness trainers receive is: what’s the best way to warm up? The answer is not stretching!
Gotham Pilates founder, Laura Sepulveda, recommends warming up the joints first. Basically we are like the tin man! We need to literally oil our joints to provide lubrication and decrease the chance of pain and/or injury.
“Order of Operations”
I like to have an order so that no body part is left behind!
Basically I refer to either of these formats to keep it simple:
- Head to toe
- Bottom up
That way it is easy to completely warm up with no body part left behind!
Head To Toe
Although there exist many ways to accomplish each of these, just one option will be explained now to keep it simple.
- Head Isolations: Standing or sitting tall, simply and easily turn your head to the right and then to the left. Start with a small range of motion and gradually increase to comfort level. 8 repetitions total (4 to each side) is sufficient.
- Shoulder Shrugs: Standing or sitting tall, easily lift your shoulders towards your ears and then lower them back down to neutral. 8 repetitions total.
- Spine Articulation/Trunk Mobility: Laura’s favorite way to do this is standing against a wall, knees slightly bent with your feet away from the wall (not quite in a fitness wall sit position but almost!). Easily peel one vertebrae at a time away from the wall as you roll down and then slowly roll right back up. The wall provides a great tactile aid to lengthen the spine and improve your posture. 4 spine rolls total.
- Foot/Ankle Mobility: Standing calf raises will do the trick. Additionally, while in a seated or supine position, dorsiflexion and plantar-flexion, which is simply flexing (pushing your heel away from you and your toes towards you) then pointing (reaching your toes away from you and pulling your heel towards you) your foot, is another effective way to warm up all the bones in the lower leg and foot. 8 repetitions total.
Just reverse the above order: Foot/Ankle, Spine Articulation/Trunk Mobility, Shoulder Shrugs, Head Isolations.
Once you have completed your workout or activity, then you can stretch as it is best to stretch when your muscles are warm.
While the specifics of an effective warm up really depend on the type of activity you are going to do, these are great exercises to warm up your joints for general exercise. Remember to always listen to your body and you should NOT work through pain. Always seek the help of a medical professional when needed.