Dynamic mobility warm-up exercises are essential for safe workouts and top performance. Dynamic drills increase joint mobility, elevate the heart rate, activate important muscles and reduce the risk of injury. That’s much more than you get from a quick stretch and a ten-minute jog.
The following five warm-up exercises are a great way to start your training sessions. Each movement will increase mobility in your ankles, hips, shoulders and mid-back (thoracic spine), which are all highly active in athletic movements. Performing these exercises will improve the quality of your workouts, increase your speed and strength on the field and decrease your risk of injury.
Wall Ankle Mobilization
This exercise is a great way to loosen your ankles and restore lost range of motion caused by injury, a sedentary lifestyle or poor footwear. Tight ankles can also cause knee and hip pain, so this is a great way to improve mobility.
- Start in split stance with right foot about an inch from wall and place hands on wall at chest level
- Push right knee over pinky toe until it touches wall; keep heel on ground
- Straighten right knee to return to start position; repeat for specified reps
- Perform set with left leg
Sets/Reps: 1×8 each leg
If you cannot touch the wall with your knee, move your foot closer. If you touch the wall easily, move your foot further away until your knee barely touches the wall
Side-Lying Diagonal Reach
This exercise increases mid-back (thoracic spine) and shoulder mobility, plus it stretches the chest. It also eliminates mobility and flexibility imbalances in the upper body.
- Lie on right side with foam roller parallel to body positioned about one foot from hips
- Cross left knee over body and rest it on foam roller slightly above hips; keep pressure on foam roller throughout movement
- Extend right arm straight up to ceiling; pretend to hold ceiling
- Extend left arm and touch left knee with thumb
- Touch left thumb to ground behind body
- Repeat sequence for specified reps; perform set on opposite site
Sets/Reps: 1×8 each side
The Squat-to-Stretch is an all-around mobility drill that opens up the hips, stretches out the hamstrings and helps improve Squat technique.
- Assume athletic stance with feet shoulder-width apart
- Bend over and grab toes; keep legs straight
- While grabbing toes, sit into a deep squat; push knees out and sit back on heels
- Straighten knees to return to bent-over position
- Repeat sequence for specified reps
The Inchworm is great warm-up movement that stretches the entire backside of the legs, engages the abs and improves shoulder stability.
- Assume push-up position
- Take small steps to walk feet towards hands until feet reach hands; do not move hands
- Walk forward with hands to assume push-up position
- Repeat for specified distance
Sets/Reps: 2×40 feet
Walking Lunges with Overhead Reach
This final warm-up exercise activates several joints in an athletic position. Specifically, it opens up the hip flexors and thoracic spine while also engaging small muscles that play a role in balance.
- Assume athletic position
- Step forward with left foot and lower into lunge position
- Raise arms overhead
- Lower arms and bring right foot forward so it’s even with left foot
- Perform on right side
- Repeat in continuous fashion for specified reps
Sets/Reps: 1×8 each leg
Check out STACK’s Flexibility guide for more stretches and mobility drills to add to your warm-up.