Daylight savings time may have bought us a few extra rays of sunshine. As for a few extra degrees, not so much. With a chilly November morning, rolling out of bed for an outdoor warm-up can be hard. Yes, there's always the gym, but some of the best dynamic stretches are just more fun in fresh air.
A higher intensity warm up incorporates dynamic stretches and promotes something called the post-activation potentiation in the muscles, i.e. it gets the muscles warmed up and moving. In a nutshell, this means muscles prepare to engage in moves on the field more efficiently, but this warming of the muscles has a sweet spot. It only takes about 5 to 10 minutes for this response to be activated. Beyond that, over stretching (sometimes seen with static stretching) can actually decrease the muscle contractile response.
The best warmups include dynamic stretching, a form of isotonic exercise that consists of sustained movements of muscles and joints that mirror movements during a soccer practice or match.
Here are ways to make your warm-up dynamic:
1. Do the Frankenstein.
Halloween may be over, but this monster of a warm-up is still on "pointe." With arms stuck out in front of you, kick up straight legs to meet the arms while walking across the field or yard. If your friends are around, then they will be delighted.
2. Have a skipping race.
Skipping will get your heart rate going and improve your upward acceleration. While pushing off the left leg, bring the right knee and left arm up and alternate. Skip as high as possible. You can also try skips that incorporate kicking out your leg in mid-air before landing. Try these and a number of other skips to get your heart pumping.
3. Jump rope.
Who said jump ropes were for kids? Challenge yourself with jump rope sets to increase lower-body flexibility. When you jump, do so two inches off the floor, giving the rope just enough space to slip under the feet. Keep elbows close to sides so the movement comes from your forearms. To find the right rope size, stand on the center and make sure the handles do not go past your armpits.
4. To-may-to, to-mah-to
No matter what you call the carioca (or karaoke), this dynamic side-to-side running movement improves hip flexion and rotation. Do the karaoke (or carioca) exercise over the jump rope. Lay the rope on the ground and move to one side by turning your hips to the front and stepping out with one leg. Keep moving in the same direction by now turning the hips backward and stepping behind with the trailing leg.