Upper Body Flexibility for Track Athletes

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Stand on your left leg, and slowly swing your right leg in front of you, keeping it straight. Notice how high you can swing it. Now, swing the same leg quickly. Unless you've got serious problems, the faster you swung, the higher you kicked.

You just experienced how dynamic flexibility movements improve your range of motion. The momentum you create by moving your legs fast carries them through a greater range of motion, which improves your flexibility.

Unfortunately, your arms lack the beef of your lower limbs, so reaping similar benefits from dynamic exercises can be difficult—unless you heed advice from Irving "Boo" Schexnayder, former strength coach for the always-dominant LSU track team. While the Tigers perform Schexnayder's Dynamic Upper Body Flexibility Series, they hold light dumbbells, or even old bowling pins, to produce the momentum needed to warm up and stretch out their upper bodies.

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Stand on your left leg, and slowly swing your right leg in front of you, keeping it straight. Notice how high you can swing it. Now, swing the same leg quickly. Unless you've got serious problems, the faster you swung, the higher you kicked.

You just experienced how dynamic flexibility movements improve your range of motion. The momentum you create by moving your legs fast carries them through a greater range of motion, which improves your flexibility.

Unfortunately, your arms lack the beef of your lower limbs, so reaping similar benefits from dynamic exercises can be difficult—unless you heed advice from Irving "Boo" Schexnayder, former strength coach for the always-dominant LSU track team. While the Tigers perform Schexnayder's Dynamic Upper Body Flexibility Series, they hold light dumbbells, or even old bowling pins, to produce the momentum needed to warm up and stretch out their upper bodies.

"The weights add extra kinetic energy, so you get a better range of movement," Schexnayder says. "I've been using this with our athletes for eight years. I've noticed a big difference in their shoulder flexibility and fewer rotator cuff injuries."

The Series consists of four exercises. Schexnayder's throwers and multi-event athletes perform 12 reps of each, one after another in circuit format, before every workout. To gain flexibility, you must perform the exercises dynamically.

Trunk Twist

• Holding weight in each hand, extend arms straight out to sides in "T" position
• Twist torso left to right, keeping "T"

Arm Twist

• Holding weight in right hand, extend arm forward at shoulder height
• Twist hand clockwise, then counterclockwise
• Repeat with opposite arm

Weighted Arm Circle

• Holding weight in right hand, make big circles forward and backward
• Repeat with opposite arm
• Finish by performing with both arms at same time

Bent-Over Swing

• Bend at waist so back is parallel to floor
• Holding weight in each hand, let arms hang freely toward floor
• Raise arms up and to side, like a Reverse Fly; then swing arms down and across chest
• Swing right arm over left for first rep; reverse for next


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: TRACK & FIELD | UPPER BODY | SWING | RANGE OF MOTION