Let’s face it. Many of us have spent the winter in a state of semi-hibernation. But, with spring finally arriving and summer just around the corner, we’ll soon be heading back outside and exercising. While it’s great to work out, quickly increasing your level of activity can also increase your chances of injury. Your muscles just aren’t used to working at that level. To avoid getting hurt, it’s important to include a proper warm-up before starting your workouts.
A warm-up is a session that takes place prior to physical activity to prepare muscles for the movements that will be required during exercise. This is especially important if the exercise consists of explosive activities. More importantly, a proper warm-up will prevent injury during exercise and will decrease chances of overuse injuries by allowing the body to prepare gradually and safely. Also, prepping the proper muscles to work before exercise will lead to a more effective workout because the muscle you want to work will actually be the one working.
Try these exercises for the days you do lower body workouts.
1. Hip Flexor Release
- For this release, use two lacrosse balls taped together.
- Lay on your stomach and place the double lacrosse ball just below your hip bone.
- Lean a tolerable amount of weight onto the lacrosse balls.
- Bend the knee on the side of the release back to a 90-degree angle.
- Swing your leg side to side in a tolerable range of motion.
- Repeat this in 30 second to two minute intervals.
2. IT Band Release
- Lay on the side you wish to release.
- Place the foam roller under your bottom leg halfway between your hip and knee.
- To focus on a specific area of the IT band, locate the more tender area with the foam roller and stop.
- Bend your knee at a 90-degree angle and then straighten. Repeat motion of bending and straightening the knee for 30 seconds to a minute.
- You may repeat this with other areas along the IT band.
3. Good Mornings
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, a slight bend in the knees, feet pointing straight forward, and place your weight on your heels.
- Chin should be tucked in, keeping your spine straight throughout the entire movement.
- Keep your back flat (don’t arch or round your back), bend forward by hinging from your hips and move your torso toward the floor. All the movement should be coming from your hips, not your back, like a door hinge.
- Come back up to standing keeping a neutral spine.
- Do 1 set of 15 repetitions this way then 2 more sets, one with the feet and leg pointing inwards and one with the feet and leg pointing outward.
- Start in a split stance (one foot in front and one foot behind) bring back knee towards the floor so both legs form 90° angles, hips slightly higher than knees, weight through the heel of the front foot.
- Hold stance, hinge from hips and bend forward as if you are reaching for something in front of you on the floor. Do 1 set of 15.
- Hold stance and then twist your torso to the right and left. Do 1 set of 15.
- Hold stance, side bend from torso to the right and left. Do 1 set of 15.
- Repeat on the other leg.
Doing these exercises prior to your leg workout will prep the muscles you want to work (butt and hamstrings) and decrease your chances of injury. Stay tuned for an upper body warm-up.