March 5 - The Dynamic Warm Up

Gone are the days of jogging a lap and a quick static stretch before practice. Now most collegiate, professional, and elite athletes use a dynamic warm-up and flexibility program prior to practice and competition. Warm-up is generally used to prevent injury and prepare the body and mind for the activity to follow. A dynamic or functional warm-up involves flexibility during sport-specific movements. It helps coordinate all of the moving parts: muscles, joints and ligaments and utilizes flexibility, mobility, strength and stability all at once. A dynamic warm-up helps prepare the body in a more efficient and effective manner than static stretching and linear warm-up and is safer than ballistic or bouncing stretching.

Dynamic warm-up consists of functional movements for both the upper and lower body that use sports-specific actions to “warm-up” the body. It does not take longer than a “traditional” jog and stretch routine but it is more focused and uses the time more effectively. This helps set the tone for the practice or workout to follow. Its goal is to increase heart rate and core body temperature as well as increase muscle elasticity and increase balance and proprioception (body awareness). Dynamic warm-up also progresses from linear (moving on one direction or plane) to moving multi-directionally. This is a much more functional and sports specific way to move. These movement patterns will translate to better movement on the court or field of play. It can be adjusted and progressed according to the skill, experience and age of the athlete. When done properly, dynamic or functional warm-up helps enhance coordination and motor skills.  This is particularly useful when training younger athletes who are still learning about their bodies.

Examples of Dynamic Warm Up exercises (most should be performed for about 20-30 yds or about half court):

  • Jog
  • Walk on toes
  • Walk with foot push adding arm swing
  • Arm circles
  • Hip rotation (each direction)
  • Butt kicks
  • Tin man
  • Lying crossover alternating legs
  • Walking lunge alternating legs
  • Side lunge (both sides)
  • Single leg toe touch-alternating legs
  • Wide base sumo squat 10 sec x 2
  • Diagonal low push
  • Pack pedal
     

Benefits of Dynamic Warm-up

  • Increase heart rate and core body temperature
  • Increase balance and proprioception
  • Enhance muscle elasticity/flexibility
  • Is functional and sports specific
  • Teach movement patterns
  • “Fire up” the nervous system
  • Get athletes mentally prepared for practice