Fitness Friday – 7 Powerful Dynamic Stretches

7 Powerful Dynamic Stretches title imageOver the past decade or so, our approach to stretching has shifted rather profoundly.

Long gone are the days when you would start a class grinding your teeth through painful stretches you held for 30 to 60 seconds. This types of stretching, called static stretching, is best done after a workout, when your muscles are warm and much more resilient. In fact static stretching before a workout could lead to injury and prevent your muscles from firing up in preparation for the movements you are about to engage in.  I do encourage you to cool down with static stretches that are wonderful for improving flexibility and lengthening of muscles.

Dynamic stretching, on the other hand, which is the way I warm up for all of my workouts, fires up your muscles so you can get the maximum return on  your effort while minimizing the risk for injury. Dynamic stretches are key for improving range of motion, flexibility and joint mobility.  Dynamic stretching also gives you much greater body awareness so you begin your workout with your body wide awake and ready for top performance. You’ll be able to push a little stronger and lift a little more weight, improving the overall effectiveness of your workout.

Today I want to share 7 of my favorite dynamic stretches that are fabulous before a BURST or HIIT workout, a run or stair workout, or just about any workout that tickles your fancy.

Straight Leg Kicks

(hips, legs and core)

Stand with feet shoulder with apart.  Bring your right arm forward then swing your left foot upwards, trying to touch your fingers without bending your leg. Repeat with the same leg for 10 to 20 times, then switch, or alternate between sides doing 10 to 20 reps with each leg. I like to start slow and progressively increase the height and power of my leg swing as my muscles warm up.

Variation: Front to Back Leg Swings (hips, legs and core)

This is a more advanced version of the straight leg swing,perfect if you are getting ready for a sprint workout or extended run, or a power BURST.  Focusing on one side at a time, stand with feet shoulder with apart.  Kick your leg backwards, bending it to touch your buttocks then swing it forward keeping the leg straight, trying to touch your fingers. Swing arms as you would when running. This requires good balance and you may want to hold gently onto a wall or bar for added stability.

Deep Lunge with Twist

(hips, legs and core)

Stand with feet shoulder with apart. Lunge forward with your right foot, landing in a deep lunge but being cautious not to bend knee past 90 degrees (keep knee aligned with your ankle) As you lunge, lower your hips for a nice hip flexor stretch. Slowly twist towards the right (in the same direction as the foot that is forward). Hold twist then return to starting position. Do 10 to 20 lunges then switch foot. If you are doing this outdoors or in a large room, stand up from lunge and initiate the next lunge with your left leg. moving forward with each lunge.

Inch Worms 

(full body, focus on shoulders and core)

Stand with feet shoulder with apart. Bend at the waist and place hands on the floor. Inch hands forward until your body is in a plank. Use small jumps to bring feet to hands. Repeat 10 to 20 times.

Lateral Leg Swings

(Full leg and core with a focus on adductors and abductors — inner and outer thigh)

Stand facing the wall and place the palm of your hand gently on the wall if you need a little support.  Swing your leg from side to side in front of you, making sure not to rotate your upper body. Point toes as you swing in front of you and flex your foot as swing out. Do 20 reps on each leg.

Knee Holds

(Legs and core)

This is a great warm up for runners. Start standing with feet shoulder with apart. Bring your right knee up and into your chest, hugging it tight with your hands on your shin, come up onto your toes with your left foot. Repeat with the same leg or alternate legs. Do 10 to 20 reps on each leg. You can do this exercise stationary or walking across a room or field.

T-Push-Ups (Upper body and core, with a focus on shoulders)

Start in a plank position, core and legs engaged. Lower your chest to the ground keeping body straight. As you push up, extend your right arm towards the sky, keeping left arm stable and rotating toward the right. Return to starting position.  Repeat 10 to 20 times on each side.

This is a pretty advanced move. Start from your knees if you need to. Remember proper execution of the movement is the most important.

Power Jumps

(Full body, focus on legs and core)

This is a fantastic warmup for any activity that requires explosive movements such as a BURST workout, sprint running or soccer for example. It is best executed where you have space to move across.

Start standing with feet shoulder with apart. Execute high skips forward, raising the driving arm overhead, bringing knee as high as possible. Focus on height, not distance and really power through each jump. Do 20 reps on each leg.

I hope you enjoy this warmup and find dynamic stretching really improves the effectiveness of your workout. These are some of my favorites but as you can imagine there are many more exciting dynamic stretches

What are some of your favorite dynamic stretches?

 

 

 

About Valerie 

Valerie Remy-Milora is the mother of 3 amazing girls, an author, public speaker, coach and founder of Scrumptious Moms. She is passionate about empowering moms to embrace self care and live a vibrant, joyful life with their loved ones. A health and fitness nut, she is an advocate for chemical-free living, real food and GMO labeling. She believes in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

Comments

  1. I do or have done all but the T-Push ups. I particularly like the knee holds, it’s a stretch I do before and after all my runs. Thanks for these!!

  2. I hurt just looking at these stretches! Guess that means I really need to get to doing them!

  3. I hadn’t heard of the inchworm before. Wow, what an interesting stretch exercise. I’ll have to try that.

  4. I like the knee holds. I like do these after I run too!

  5. Leg swings and knee holds are my favorites. I do them before I walk.

  6. These all sound wonderful, I start working out then I stop,, I wish I had someone to work out with me and take walks ..

  7. I really need these stretches! I’m so tight. infact, the whole family can use these!

  8. I need to be better about stretching before I work out. Thanks for these tips.

    • You are most welcome Ellen. Most people think of stretching after a workout but it is equally important before and as you will discover you will get a LOT more from your workout if you warm up with dynamic stretches.

  9. I have tight spots so stretching is a must for me. Straight leg kicks…ouch! Here I come!!

    • I hear you Marina and empathize 🙂 My muscles don’t fire up quite as fast as they did in my 20’s. You’re going to love the straight leg kicks. Just start slow and fairly low and increase the height as your muscles warm up. I suspect you’ll be a little surprised at your range of motion 🙂

  10. I see that you have several exercise postings. Stretching is about as far as I go. I’m basically very lazy.

  11. Hina momin says:

    I like the walk & execise daily I like do these after I run too! 🙂

  12. Sue Harding says:

    I always forget about warming up before doing a workout. My idea of warming up is taking a shower before a work out.

  13. Rebecca Brewer says:

    Love the t-push ups.

  14. Thank you for these. I don’t have any suggestions but am adding exercises to my list. It is supposed to be in the 60s this week so I can go walking. Yes!!!

  15. I definitely need to remember to stretch more. Thanks for sharing – these will come in handy.

  16. Thanks for the stretching tips. My day goes so much better when i start feeling prepared and stretches help me do that.

    • You are most welcome Ellen. I loooove to stretch before and after a workout and if for some reason I can’t squeeze in a regular workout, I push just a bit harder on my dynamic stretches and it feels amazing!

  17. Cathy Philipps says:

    Thanks for the great stretching tips

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