A lot of people believe that any stretching is helpful in some way, but the reality is, the wrong type of stretching can be harmful and actually work against you. When the temperatures drop, our muscles require more time to get into a safe working condition to prepare for exercise. Static stretches, like sitting on the floor and reaching for our toes, for example, are better suited as post-workout moves, and when done while the muscles are still cold and tight, can result in damage and pain. Whenever it’s cold outside, or the body feels particularly rigid, dynamic stretches are the way to go. Here are some great stretches to use on cold mornings that will help prepare the body for a safe and efficient workout.
Leg Cradle To Side Lunge How to do it: Stand on your left leg and lift your right leg of the ground opening your right knee to the right. Grab below your right knee with your right hand and above your right shoe with your left hand. Lift your right leg toward your chest, keeping it parallel to the ground (similar to a standing figure four stretch, but keeping your standing leg straight). Now release your right leg and step it out to the right, lowering into a side lunge on your right leg before returning to standing tall. Do fives reps on each side, alternating sides with each rep. Benefits: This stretch improves mobility and flexibility of your hips, ankles, thighs, and knees. This comes in handy during lower body exercises like squats, where you need your hips and ankles to be loosened up to get the full range of motion.
Arm Circles How to do it: Stand up and extend your arms straight out by the sides. Slowly start to make circles of about 1 foot in diameter with each outstretched arm. Continue the circular motion of the outstretched arms for about ten seconds. Benefits: There’s a reason arm circles were a part of every high school sports team warm-up routine. They’re a quick way to increase circulation, with results that can be felt almost immediately. It’s also a great warm-up exercise because it targets several areas at once, including the shoulders, triceps, biceps and upper back.
Back Lunge To Groiner How to do it: Start standing and step your right foot back into a reverse lunge. Bend both knees to lower your butt toward ground while keeping your spine long. Now place both hands on the ground on the inside of your left foot and straighten your right leg behind you. Drop your left elbow and gently push it against the instep of your left leg. Pause, then return to standing. Do fives reps on each side, alternating sides with each rep. Benefits: You'll improve mobility in your knees, hips, ankles, and lower back, and increase flexibility in your groin and hip flexors. This dynamic stretch comes in especially handy if you're doing any lunges with weights during your workout.
Walking Lunges Benefits: Begin standing with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands on your hips. Step forward with one leg, flexing the knees to drop your hips. Descend until your rear knee nearly touches the ground. Your posture should remain upright, and your front knee should stay above the front foot. Why it works: These promote hip flexibility, incorporate the core and challenge balance. When faced with the problem of minimal space for warm-ups, climbing stairs is also a comparable option that will loosen the hips.
Quad Pull With Tilt How to do it: Start standing. With your right hand, grab your right foot behind you just above your right shoe. Standing on your left leg, begin to lean forward slightly while pulling your right knee up in air. Hold for five seconds, then release your foot and return to standing. Do fives reps on each side, alternating sides with each rep. Benefits: You'll get mobility benefits in your knees, hips, and ankles, as well as added flexibility in your quads and hamstrings. Plus, this stretch challenges your balance, too.
Arm-in-Front Shoulder Stretch How to do it: Stand up and grab your right elbow in front of your chest using your left hand.Stretch by pulling your elbow towards your chest for several seconds and alternate sides when done.This exercise will stretch your shoulder muscles. Benefits: This stretch will mainly affect the front of the shoulder, or deltoid. Place one arm across the front of your body.