Fitness, Your Dream Body

Spice Up Your Warm-Up With These 10 Dynamic Stretches That Increase Joint Flexibility

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Dynamic stretching for joint mobility.Do you add dynamic stretching into your workout? It’s one of the best ways to increase joint mobility and range of motion. Dynamic stretching is exactly what it sounds like: stretching while moving around (as opposed to a static stretch, in which you hold in one position). It’s one of the safest ways to warm up; studies have shown that dynamic stretching is preferable to static stretching before a workout because it increases range of motion without compromising muscular strength. For this reason, dynamic stretching is part of the three-part warm-up I always take clients and classes through, and today I want to share a few dynamic stretches you can add to your next workout!

Cat/cow

A yoga classic, cat/cow is one of my favorite ways to warm up the spine. You’ll begin in a tabletop position with your wrists underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Inhale and start to extend the spine by dropping the belly to the floor, broadening through the collarbone. Exhale and now curl your chin to your chest as you send your spine to the ceiling, navel pulled in. Move through 4-8 repetitions, making sure to link your breath to your movement. 

Arm circles

Did you know that the shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body? Arm circles are a celebration of the many ways your shoulders can move! You can start with your arms at your side and start to roll them in full circles forward. Roll forward for 5-10 repetitions and then reverse and circle the arms backward for 5-10 repetitions. 

Dynamic tricep stretch

Yep, you can dynamically stretch your triceps too! This movement will warm up the muscles around the elbow joint. You’ll hold you arm out in front of you and grasp just above the elbow. Start to circle your forearm counterclockwise; you’ll be able to feel the tricep moving in your hand. Complete 4-8 repetitions in one direction before reversing. Repeat on the other side. 

Shoulder rolls

Shoulder rolls are great for relieving shoulder and neck tension. Mindfully raise your shoulders toward your ears and send them down your back. Repeat for 5-10 repetitions and repeat moving forward. These should feel really nice!

Tin soldiers

Tin soldiers are a favorite of mine for warm-up because they dynamically stretch the hamstrings (which are so tight for most of us!) and also tap into the core. You’ll launch your foot up to hip height and bring the opposite hand to meet the inside of your foot. Repeat on the other side. You can bend your knees as much as you need to here; the goal is to feel a stretch in the back of the legs. Repeat 5-10 repetitions of each leg.

Hip circles

Hip circles will get your lower body prepped for movement! You’ll lift one leg out, bended at the knee, and circle the knee around to the front of your body. Repeat on the other side, and really feel your leg moving around in the hip socket. To reverse, you’ll bring your knee forward and then open out your legs to bring the knee to the side. Complete 5-10 repetitions on each leg, in each direction. 

Lower lunge

This stretch is another great way to open up the hips. You’ll sink into a low side lunge, bending deeply into one leg as your other leg is stretched out beside you. You should feel a stretch in your inner thighs. Start to walk the hands from side to side. This side to side movement is important – if you stay in the same spot for too long, it becomes a static stretch (which is fine at the end of the workout, but not at the beginning!) Repeat 5-10 repetitions on each leg. 

Kneeling hip flexor to hamstring flow

If you’re interested in doing the splits, this mini-flow is for you! You’ll start in a low lunge with your hands on either side of your front foot, and slowly lower your back knee to the ground. This is your kneeling hamstring stretch. To flow into the hamstring stretch, start to shift backward and straighten out to front leg (although you can bend the front leg as much as you need – you just want a stretch in the back of that leg!) and bend forward at the waist to bring your chest to your thighs. Feel free to have the hands on the ground beside you or even on a pair of yoga blocks for support as you flow from hamstring to hip flexor. Repeat 5-10 repetitions per leg. 

Child’s pose to tabletop flow

This mini-flow is one of my favorites for the beginning of a yoga practice to warm up the core, hips, and shoulders. You’ll begin in a tabletop with your wrists underneath your shoulders and knees underneath your hips. Bring your big toes to touch behind you. You can keep your knees where they are or widen if desired to get deeper into the hips. Move into child’s pose by shifting your weight back into your hips. The arms will lengthen in front of you. Repeat 5-10 repetitions. 

Twist from wide-legged forward fold

This dynamic twist warms up the spine and hamstrings! You’ll start in a wide-legged forward fold. Place your left hand beneath your torso and lift the left arm up as your twist toward the left, gazing at the left hand. Repeat on the other side. Perform 5-10 repetitions per side. 

I hope you enjoy these dynamic stretches! Each of these movements is awesome to add to a warm-up or yoga practice and many of them target multiple muscle groups. If you’re looking for an at-home circuit to follow them up with, you can try this core stability circuit

Also by Maille: 7 Minute At-Home Glute And Core Circuit (Video)

Counteract Sitting All Day With These Powerful Stretches For Posture

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Video: Maille O’Donnell

Maille O'Donnell

Maille O'Donnell

Maille is the founder of Green and Growing, a conscious lifestyle blog focusing on vegan tips and recipes. She is also a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor, avid yogi, and Environmental Science and Policy student at the University of Maryland. Connect with Maille via Instagram @greenandgrowingblog and her website.
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