1. The dynamic warm up should always target the shoulder and hip, as mobility in these two ball and socket joints and the key to preventing injuries to the spine and improving performance in the gym and field of play.
2. There is a big difference between static stretching and dynamic stretching. Static stretching kills explosiveness, has been associated with increasing risk of injury and does not elongate tissues. Dynamic stretching on the other hand is the perfect way to prime tissues and joints for performance.
3. This hip specific dynamic warm up involves five movements that will be completed in circuit. It only takes 3-4 minutes to complete, and will work wonders for improving your hip mobility and function.
4. All five movements in this hip specific dynamic warm up are broken down with videos and coaching notes so you have no excuse not to execute these perfectly, mastering your hips function in the process.
Simplifying Your Dynamic Warm Up With Strategic Stretching
The dynamic warm up has become an overly complicated, highly tedious practice throughout many facets of the sports performance and fitness industries as of late. Through the importance of a dynamic warm up should not be understated, we must start trimming the fat off our pre-training routines and prioritizing the movements that offer the very best return in our time and energy invested.
As a coach and physical therapist, the two joints that I believe to be of the utmost importance to target from a mobility and dynamic stability standpoint during a dynamic warm up are the shoulder and hip complexes. Simply put, these ball and socket joints are the key to extremity function, but also to allow the spine and musculature associated with the torso to function optimally.
The hips, acting as a the central joints of the body, play a pivotal roll in spinal health and function along with the obvious lower extremity performance based activities such as running, jumping and changing directions.
Since the hips are so highly active throughout many different physical activities, they are also notorious joints for developing immobility that hinders the function of the joints and movements they control. This fact is the reason why we will be targeting the hips directly with a specific warm up sequence that involves the use of stretching to improve mobility, function and long term orthopedic health.
Not Static Stretching… Dynamic Stretching
By now, the method of utilizing static stretching before heavy strength training or explosive based athletic movements is pretty much a dead science and practice . So if that statement left you confused by the fact that “stretching” is being used in this hip specific dynamic warm up, that’s absolutely understandable. Lets break this down before moving forward.
The key difference here is that my hip specific dynamic warm up programs dynamic stretching, as opposed to static stretching. The marked difference? Static stretching involves long duration holds with little to no active movements through the tissues. This practice has shown little carryover into improving athletic performance, increasing tissue length, and hell, even preventing injuries.
Dynamic stretching on the other hand is my preferred method of mobility for those in dire need of enhancing their mobility due to the fact that it utilizes oscillations that move in and out of end ranges of motions for specific joints and tissues that are being targeted with the movements. By oscillating smoothly on and off, I have seen great amounts of success breaking through neurologically locked tissues, and even lubricating the active joints in the movements. This is the kind of “warm up” that we want to be using pre-training and pre-competition. Now, onto the hip specific warm up.
Hip Specific Dynamic Warm Up
I am excited to bring you all the exact hip centric stretching based dynamic warm-up sequence that I personally use with my athletes and clients that has produced a huge amount of success over the past decade.
Like any other movement based exercise prescription, the key to making these specific five exercises work wonders for your mobility and overall function is your attention to detail, and of course, achieving mastery in each of these movements.
This circuit is best utilized in a dynamic warm-up, but is not limited to just before training. For those of you who are truly locked down at the hips, going through these movements 2-3 times a day will help you to achieve greater mobility at the hips, and also facilitate transference of your new found mobility into your lifts, or onto the field of play.
Simply complete 20 repetitions per exercise (take into account bilateral movements) and move on with little to no rest between each movement. As I spoke to in the previous section, concentrate on achieving spinal neutral in each of these positions while adding smooth oscillations to the joints being targeted with the stretch without deviating away from that neutral alignment.
For beginners, once through this circuit will be challenging, but as you improve your movement efficiency, feel free to continue on through this sequence for a total of 2-3 rounds.
*Complete approximately 20 oscillations per side of each exercise and move directly into the next movement with minimal rest between. Complete 1-3 rounds of this circuit with 30 seconds rest between rounds.
Now that we have the foundation of the warm up movements, we will be breaking each movement down one by one to coach you up on the acute details that make each movement a worthwhile practice for improving your mobility and function.
Rear Foot Elevated Hip Flexor Dynamic Stretch
The rear foot elevated hip flexor dynamic stretch just may be my favorite mobility drill for people to normalize their lower body and spinal posturing after days spent slouching.
In a half-kneeling position, the front knee will be placed bent at 90 degrees while the opposite leg’s foot is grabbed by the hand to achieve a rear foot elevated position.
Ensure that your core is active, spine and pelvis are in neutral alignment, and your glute on your back leg is squeezing and engaging, which will help maintain neutral alignment up the chain.
Once this static position is achieved, start oscillating back and fourth moving your back hip in and out of terminal extension while controlling the movement with the front leg and arm.
In a half kneeling position, straighten out one of your legs and place it directly lateral to your body so that your knees are in line with one another.
Use your hands grabbing each other in the midline of your body to aid in the weight distribution from the next step.
With a neutral spine and pelvis, you will drop your butt on the kneeling side back to your heel, bringing your arms out straight in front of your body and hip hinging.
This movement will create a dynamic stretch throughout your medial hamstring group along with your adductors of the leg that is straightened.
Between each rep, come all the way back up into hip extension and squeeze your butt for a split second to realign the pelvis between each and every rep.
Standing Hamstring + Dorsiflexion Dynamic Stretch
This movement is targeting both the hamstrings on the front leg and also the ankle moving into dorsiflexion on this same front leg.
Stagger your stance, and grab onto a pole with your hands to improve your stability.
Keeping your front heel down on the ground as best as possible, you will move your body forward, aiding with your arms and hips, and driving your front knee forward, moving your ankle into end range dorsiflexion.
Reverse the motion, and concentrate on placing a stretch through the hamstring on the front leg as you bring your hips back.
Maintain a neutral spine and pelvic alignment throughout this dynamic stretch.
Kneeling Modified “Pigeon” Dynamic Stretch
This stretch is very similar to the popular yoga pose, with one key distinction; spinal neutral being maintained throughout the movement.
Bring one leg forward and place your knee in front of your hip with your lower leg angled a bit towards the midline. This will help target the deep rotators of the hip.
On the back leg, be sure to dorsiflex your foot and kick your toes into the ground, as we can work on ankle mobility while targeting the hips as well.
Once in this position, to ensure spinal neutral, push yourself up with your arms into full extension and activate your core. If you are unable to achieve this position without rounding your back, simply elevate your hands up on a step or roller, as spinal neutral is a requisite.
Oscillate back and forth with a very small amount of movement. A little goes a long way on this one.
Deep Squat to Hamstring Dynamic Stretch
Place your feet into your true squat stance. If you need assistance determining your optimal squat stance, depth and form, review “Squat Depth: The Final Answer”which was featured on Testosterone Nation last year.
Hinge your hips back and go down and grab under your toes to achieve a hamstring stretch in this toe touch progression.
After accentuating this hamstring stretch for a second or so, bent your knees and drop your butt down into a squat stance, pulling yourself down into this position with your hands.
As you reach the bottom of your squat, your knees should drive out, chest should raise up and your spine should remain in neutral alignment.
A great cue I use with my clients is to have their head lead the movement. As you hamstring stretch, your spine stays in neutral, including your head which should be looking down at the ground. As this transitions into a squat stretch, the head should come back up, thus maintaining spinal neutral.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. John Rusin is an internationally recognized coach, physical therapist, speaker, and writer, whose published over 100 articles in some of the most widely regarded media outlets in the industry like Testosterone Nation, Mountain Dog Diet, Breaking Muscle, and Muscle and Strength, to name a few.
Along with an impressive laundry list of publications, Dr. John works with some of the world’s most elite athletes, including Gold Medalist Olympians, NFL All-Pro Quarterbacks, MLB All-Star Pitchers, Professional Bodybuilders and World Class IronMan Triathletes.