Five of the best warm-up stretches to prevent injury

Working out and pushing your body to the limit can feel great.

Whether you’re running for longer, lifting heavier, or playing sport at a higher level – all forms of exercise can improve your fitness levels and make you feel amazing.

However, before any form of exercise, you need to make sure your muscles are warmed up and ready to work – to reduce your risk of pesky niggles and more serious injuries.

Your musculature, joints and bones support you from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep – so it pays to show them some love through stretching and mobility. 

Third Space elite personal trainer, Stu Slater, has shared his five top moves to try before your next workout. Hitting these exercises regularly will help to keep your motion smooth, seamless and safe.

Pec stretch

‘The shoulders tend to get drawn in through weaknesses in our middle back as well as over-training push movements,’ explains Stu. ‘Freeing up this tissue is a good first step for balancing your upper-body before training.’

How to do it:

1. Position your arm against the rig so your elbow is 90 degrees to your shoulder.

2. Step forward on the same side, maintain your torso position so you are pointing forward.

3. Lean forward until you feel a modest stretch and hold.

Passive hang

‘Hanging with a focus on breathing drills is a great way to help restore your rib cage alignment as well as releasing the large back muscles that contribute to restricting our shoulder mobility,’ says Stu. ‘I would start with the feet down and progressively work up to fully hanging.

‘If you are unable to get your arm overhead then opt for a simple lat stretch by holding onto something upright and leaning back into the stretch.’

How to do it:

1. Step under a bar and take your grip just outside shoulder width.

2. Hang from the bar, really trying to think about relaxing every muscle in your body except your hands.

 Jefferson curl

‘This is a personal favourite and possibly one of the greatest all-encompassing stretches to both open up and strengthen the posterior chain,’ says Stu.

‘It’s responsible for a number of significant movement dysfunctions throughout our body and daily lives.’

How to do it:

1. Standing on a step or box, begin by tucking your chin to your chest before rolling down your spine, segment by segment.

2. Reach towards the floor, feeling the stretching through your lower back and hamstrings.

3. Reverse the movement, segment by segment, until you are standing tall.

Half kneeling hip flexor stretch

‘I’d recommend some hip flexor stretching in order to allow your leg to fully straighten as well as free up the tilting aspect of the pelvis, incorporating the arm increases its intensity by leaning the lumbar spine away,’ says Stu.

‘The hip flexor originates from the lumbar spine, helping the stretch to increase.’

How to do it:

1. Take a knee and rest the foot on your kneeling leg on a bench.

2. Push your hips forward, ensuring you do not arch in the lower back.

3. Place your hand behind your neck on the same side as the elevated foot.

4. Bend sideways away from your hip and hold the stretch.

Ankle PAILs RAILs

‘By utilising the PAILs RAILs technique onto the ankle stretch, we achieve a superior method of increasing active range of motion in the ankles, limited active range at the ankle joints is one of – if not the – biggest reason for problematic squat and deadlift patterns,’ says Stu.

PAILs RAILs is an isometric loading protocol created by Dr. Andreo Spina. In other words, this is when we are stretching and contracting the muscles that are being lengthened/stretched followed by the opposing muscles to pull us deeper into the stretch. 

PAILs = Progressive Angular Isometric Loading 

RAILs = Regressive Angular Isometric Loading 

How to do it:

1. Start in a kneeling lunge position, with your back knee resting on the ground.

2. Lean into your front foot using the weight of your torso to stretch your achilles and calf.

3. While keeping the heel on the ground, maintain a flat foot, push the ball of your foot into the ground to stimulate a contraction through the calf.

4. While relaxing the calf, try to lift your toes off the ground contracting the dorsiflexors.

5. Relax all muscles and your ankle range should be increased.

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