Dynamic stretching: Try forward leg swing
Before workouts, the new thinking is that it’s a good idea to warm up with ‘dynamic stretches.’
Unlike static stretches, where you hold one position for as long as 30 seconds, with dynamic stretching you are moving through a controlled range of motion. You’ll not only reduce the chance of injury, you can also improve your performance. ‘It primes your nervous system, increasing circulation to the joints and muscles,’ says Brent Bishop, a Toronto-based fitness expert and owner of Think Fitness Studios, and a regular contributor to Best Health. ‘This is essential to making them more pliable for the activity that you’re going to be doing.’ Dynamic stretching also helps increase your mobility and range of motion; doing static stretches without a warm-up could actually lead to a pulled muscle.
Try the Forward Leg Swing dynamic stretch. ‘It’s great for your hamstrings and hip flexors,’ says Bishop. He recommends doing it as a warm-up, particularly before any activity that involves running.
Forward leg swing: Support yourself on a wall or a post with one hand, and face straight ahead. Swing one leg forward and back like a pendulum, keeping your posture tall and your core engaged. Try not to swing your leg aggressively at first; instead, lightly start to swing it and gradually increase your range of motion. As you get blood flow to the muscles, you will feel yourself loosen up. Relax your hip joint as much as possible. Do 20 swings for each leg.