Warming up is serious business. It can keep you from getting hurt and can also help you perform at your best. In other words, warm-ups are cool when you get right down to it.
Arm Roll Outs
Rolling out your arms does a number of beneficial things to warm your body up. It gets your blood circulating, which means more fuel is going to your muscles. It causes your arm muscles to begin to actually heat up a bit, so they are more flexible and it will also warm up your shoulders, increasing the range of motion in the joints.
- Stand straight and tall with your arms to your side.
- Bring your arms out to your side, up even with your shoulders.
- Roll them forward ten times and then backward ten times.
- Repeat ten times.
Let’s get that blood pumping! Jumping jacks are a fantastic way to raise your core temperature, which gets everything moving and warmed up.
- Stand with your feet close together, arms to your sides.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles so your pelvis is forward and your lower back is straight.
- Slightly bend your knees.
- Now, jump so you land with your feet a bit over a shoulder’s width apart.
- At the same time, raise your arms above your head. (You should be on the balls of your feet.)
- With your knees slightly bent, jump again, as you bring your feet together and your arms back to your sides.
- Repeat fifteen times.
Rolling It Back and Rolling It Up
This exercise will help your body establish balance and mobility in the neck, back, spine, and hamstrings. It will warm up your abdominal muscles, get your blood circulating, relieve tension, create space between the vertebrae, and promote proper posture as well.
- Drop your chin to your chest.
- Roll through your back reaching your hands to the floor.
- When you feel the need, bend your knees.
- Stretch and hold.
- Slowly, go all the way back up to a standing position.
- Repeat five to ten times.
Neck and Shoulder Roll
In one way or another, any workout or performance you do will use your neck and/or your shoulders.
In ballet, even your arm positions will use these muscles. In cheerleading, your arm movements rely heavily upon your neck and shoulders. The strain often placed on the neck and shoulders when doing gymnastics is immense.
Not warming up your neck and shoulders properly can lead to serious injury, so be sure to take the time to do these warm-ups, no matter what sport or performing art you are doing.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Slowly tilt your head to the side. Gently pull.
- Repeat on the other side.
Take Time for the Spine
The health of your spine is crucial, not just in the performing arts and in sports, but for your life in general. The spine is the second most injured body part in dancers, preceded only by leg injuries. It is a leading injury in gymnasts.
Spinal injuries can lead to chronic pain. Here’s a warm up to help make sure your spine is prepared.
- Kneel on the floor on your hands and knees with your palms directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hip bones. Your fingers will be pointed away from you.
- Tuck in your chin, and then curve your back upward toward the ceiling. Gently pull.
- Arch your back, pulling your head up toward the ceiling.
- Tilt your tailbone up.
- Return to your original position and repeat five times.
Warm-ups are hip, literally. The hip is another part of the body widely used in ballet, dance, gymnastics, and most any other performing art or sport. You will need a lot of hips flexibility.
Did you know a turnout, the classic ballet starting position with toes and knees turned out and heels together, requires the work of six muscles located deep within your pelvis and hip area?
The hips are often overworked in many of the performing arts and in sports, as well. Make sure to warm them up each and every time.
- Lay down on your back.
- Pull your right knee to your chest.
- Circle your bent leg out to the side.
- Return your leg next to your other leg, lengthwise.
- Repeat ten times.
- Switch and do the same using your left leg.
Ankle Rotation Sensation
It goes without saying that your ankles need to be warmed up. Just think of how much weight is put on them just by walking. It is very important to get them ready to roll or not to roll.
- Lay on the floor.
- Gently point the toe of your right foot.
- Lift your right leg slightly off the floor.
- Rotate your ankle in a circle.
- Repeat ten times to the right and ten times to the left.
- Now, do the same on your left side.
Back Legs and Hips Dip
We’ve talked about how important it is to warm up the hips, but the hamstrings (back of the legs) are super significant too.
- With your legs wide apart and your feet pointed out, bend your knees.
- Drop your hips down to the floor to a deep, wide squat.
- From there, bring one leg out straight to the side as you stretch.
- Hold for twenty seconds.
- With your hands, walk yourself to the other side and repeat.
- Do both sides ten times.
Jogging in Place
This is a very simple warm up, but one that does so much. This will actually begin to set your body temperature even higher, so it will be ready for the activity which lies ahead.
You will also begin to increase your heart rate. Although it’s super easy, it’s important to do it correctly, practicing good posture, and breathing regularly.
- With your arms to your side, take a deep, slow breath.
- Gently begin to jog in place for ten steps on each foot.
- Gradually pump up the pace ten more steps.
- Go one more round, even faster.
- Gradually cool down your pace.
- End with your arms beside you in a standing position.
THE SCIENCE: What Warming Up Really Does
- Heats your body to a warmer temperature preparing the muscles for stretching.
- Increases the range of movement of your joints.
- Increases the extensibility of your muscles, ligaments, connective tissues, and tendons.
- Releases stored fuel for energy.
- Moves your body from a relative rest state to an active state.
- Changes your nervous system from parasympathetic to sympathetic control (basically the fight or flight that pumps adrenaline and strength, great for competitions and peak performances).
- Circulates and redistributes blood.
HOT WARM-UP TIPS
Remember, warm-ups are literally for warming your body up. Especially if you’re warming up where it’s cold, add extra layers of clothing to get a jump start on the process.
- Warming up is not only for your body but for your mind, as well. Surround yourself with positive things like motivational posters, inspiring music, and anything else that pumps you up
- Focus on the muscles you will be using because those are the ones you want to be sure get warmed up. Warming up muscles you won’t use is sweet, too, like icing on the cake.
- Did you know during a warm-up, your body’s digestive system shuts down to supply your muscles with more blood? Eating during a warm-up is definitely not a good idea.
- The object of warming up is to get your body gradually used to the strenuous workout or performance ahead, so easy does it.