Dynamic Stretching Part 2: For your luscious sore legs

As stated before, here are a few dynamic stretches and the demonstration for them. I will start off mainly with the lower body and the next post will be more with the upper body.

As I discussed previously, the dynamic warm up should be task specific. For example, if you are warming up for your swing in baseball, you may not be as concerned with your running mechanics and loosening up your lower body muscles as much as you would your upper body and core. On the other hand, if you’re about to run some amount of distance, you should probably focus on warming up your legs a little more (although arms are important in running, too).

Here is the video combining all of the stretches listed below. Don’t mind the non-matching-clothing-choice (hataz gon’ hate, hate, hate, hate, hate….):

1) Lunge, reach, and twist: Cross one leg across and lunge forward. Lean forward, stretching both arms out with a “reach” to the point where you feel a little unstable. Come back up and twist to the side of the leg that is forward.

What is this good for?: This can help to warm up your core, focus on balance and weightbearing on your front leg as well as stretching out your hip, knee, and ankle in the back leg. By keeping your core in nice and tight, you can also focus on proper neuromuscular firing of your abdominal muscles (which should always fire before you do any movements). This may be good to do to improve your any sort of hip flexibility issues, assist with decreasing low back pain, and help with any sort of knee strengthening issues as well as many other benefits!

2) Single leg deadlift walk into airplane: Maintain single leg stance on one leg, kick other fully extended leg back while simultaneously bending trunk and horizontally bringing arms out to side (like an airplane).

What is this good for?: This can help to stretch out your hamstrings as well as work on single leg balance and control while walking. Keep your core in nice and tight for this as well as it is required to help you maintain your balance and fire those muscles! This also can help to stretch out your pecs as well as working on firing your scapular stabilizers.

3) Single Leg Hop and Hold: Stand on one leg, reach down with opposite arm from stance side to touch ground (slow and controlled). Extend trunk to neutral while driving leg contralateral to stance leg into the air (flexed knee and hip to 90 each). Pause and hold, then repeat. *Add hop and focus on sticking the landing and holding for at least 2 seconds ONCE you have demonstrated proper hold with beginner level.

What is this good for?: Not only does this help to mimic your running man motion and provide a great stretch for your hips and knees, but it also helps to work on your single leg stance balance. Balance is always key to help appropriately fire muscles and promote neuromuscular recruitment that can assist in injury prevention. As you progress, this can really help with your landing (which should be soft!) for any sort of jumping/plyometric training you may be doing.

4) Knee to chest variations: Flex hip and knee up until you are able to hug knee against your chest. Continue alternating while walking. Progress by adding a twist to the side you flex instead of holding.

What is this good for?: This can help to stretch out those legs while also working on your core muscles! By tightening your core while you twist, you are working on more rotational core stability, which is essential and often overlooked.

5) Side Lunge Touching Heel: Place feet more than shoulder width apart so that you can lunge to one side by bending your knee, toes facing forward at all times. When you lunge, reach down with your hands for your heel. Alternate sides. (sorry mine is a little awkward, my legs were a little sore..oops)

What is this good for?: This helps with your single leg balance and strength, but is easy to offload if you just simply don’t lunge down as far (which is fine if you have knee pain like me). This really just helps to warm up and incorporate all of your leg muscles, focusing on your hips, some extra ankle motion, and a side to side motion (in the frontal plane) that may be overlooked. I mean, think about it, how often are you really walking sideways and doing things sideways in life!?

6) High knee to butt kick (I haven’t yet found/coined a fancy term for this): Combines your basic high knees and butt kicks to facilitate a motion that is more like the movements performed during running. Raise your knee up towards your chest as high as you can, lower it down to tap the floor, then kick your heel back to try to kick your butt. Take a step and repeat on the other leg.

What is this good for?: This definitely helps to warm up your quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors more than anything – with a little focus on core if you’d like, also. By performing a similar motion to what you would as you run, this is very task-specific and is perfect pre-run!

A few of these were taken from a program I used to help out with called “BodyArmor” at my college. If you are interested in seeing what they are all about, check it out here! –> http://godutchmen.com/sports/2011/10/6/bodyarmour.aspx

Thanks, everyone! Stay tuned for some upper body stretches next time!
-Jen

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