By now many of you have incorporated soft tissue and dynamic stretching work (see foam rolling and dynamic stretching) into your warm up routines. You know that static stretching is an ineffective and outdated mode of warm up, because it decreases strength and performance, develops little if any range of motion (ROM) prior to getting warm, and has been disproven in preventing injury. You also know that 5 min or so in the cardio section prior to training does not prepare your joints and soft tissues for the rigors and full ROM of a resistance workout. So per you highly qualified fitness coach, and or the eloquent well-researched fitness blog you follow, you’ve established a thorough dynamic warm up routine prior to your training. So thorough in fact, that it may be cutting into your limited training time. 5-10 minutes foam rolling, 5-10 minutes dynamic stretching, and 5-10 minutes activation work leaves little time for training. While you may be covering all your bases, perhaps you could be spending more time on certain deficiencies and less on others. And maybe the order and sequencing of these exercises could elicit greater short-term mobility for your workout, and long-term gains in tissue quality day to day. Below are a few suggestions for developing even greater specificity in your warm up.
Order ABCs – Sequencing your warm up routine is no different that choosing the appropriate order of exercises for your workout. You wouldn’t do (I hope) a single joint movement before a compound movement. So don’t start your warm up stretching muscles with adhesions (knots). You’re essentially pulling those knots tighter, and limiting the length and quality of the muscle. Following the order and sequencing below, with enough frequency, may help counteract the adaptive stresses and postural changes of day-to-day work and activity. (see The Sitting Disease)
A - Release – choose 1 soft tissue exercise for the targeted muscle of the day to improve the quality of that tissue, improving movement and strength – SMR, ART, ETC
B - Mobilize – follow an active release exercise with a specific dynamic stretch or mobility movement to improve the length and range of motion of that muscle
C - Activation – Once you’ve released and mobilized the selected muscle, hammer it home with an activation exercise of that muscle’s antagonist (opposing muscle group). By law of reciprocal inhibition, activating (contracting) an opposing muscle group, will allow for a greater stretch (release) and length in the targeted muscle.
Hip Mobility - Flexors
Hip Mobility - Adductors
Hip Mobility - Gluteals