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Get Loose

Forget the sit-and-reach stretching you did during high school gym. 

August 2012

5280.com Exclusive: Watch a video about the dynamic warm-up.

Forget the sit-and-reach stretching you did during high school gym: Those static movements can actually inhibit performance for as long as 60 minutes after you start exercising. Today’s professional athletes partake in dynamic warm-ups (aka stretching while moving). The theory: By using your muscles in the same ways they’ll be used during an activity, you’ll play better. Joanna Goldin, a physical therapist at Centennial’s Specialized Physical Therapy and a primary health-care provider for the Women’s Tennis Association and U.S. Fed Cup Team (she works with Serena Williams), walks us through some sample stretches everyone should do before working out or competing.

Arm Swing: Swing your arms back and forth by your sides as you would while running, speeding up the movement as you go.

Arm Hug: Start with your arms out to the side. Slowly bring them together as if hugging yourself, right arm on top, and then bring them back out. Alternate which arm is on top.

Straight Leg March: Kick your left leg straight out in front of you while simultaneously swinging your right arm forward. Alternate legs and arms. 

Inchworm: Move into a push-up position. Slowly walk your feet up as close to your hands as possible. Then walk your hands out. Repeat.

Hip Stretch: Stand on your right leg. Bring your left knee up, bending it and grabbing your shinbone with both hands by your right hip. Step up into a tiptoe on your right foot. Alternate legs. 

Quick Jumps: Find a line (on a court or simply use a crack on the ground). Stand on one side of it and jump, feet together, side-to-side over it. Repeat for 30 seconds. Then do it front-to-back.

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Dynamic Warm-Up Tips

Warm up as close as possible to your planned activity. // Before any stretching, you should jog, hop on a stationary bike, or jump rope for three to five minutes. // The dynamic warm-up should take about 10 minutes. // Do each move for the amount of time it takes you to walk the width of a tennis court from one doubles sideline to the other. // Rest for 15 to 30 seconds between each exercise. // Warm-down tip: Drink one serving of low-fat chocolate milk within 30 minutes of working out to aid recovery.