Warm Up: Joint mobilisation

I often teach people a warm up which is based on mobilisation of the joints.
The idea being to target each joint and warm them up individually.
This won’t get your heart racing but it will prepare your joints for work.
Doing these kinds of exercises regularly will contribute to improved joint stability and will allow some improvement in flexibility and combat the stiffness that creeps in everyday.

I tend to start at the bottom and work my way up.

Ankles:

This sequence start with lifting onto the balls of the feet, followed by rolling onto he heels and lifting the toes.
Followed by putting the weight onto the outside of the feet and then the inside of the feet.

If you have a tendency towards high arches or flat feet this exercise will help you develop the strength and flexibility improve and develop the co-ordination to control you foot position.

Knees:

Flexion and extension, bending the leg and straightening it.
This exercise can be done in a lot of different ways. In the pictures I’ve got my thigh horizontal with the floor and I’m balancing on one foot, this can be a difficult position to do this exercise.
If flexibility is an issue you can raise your leg just enough to keep the foot clear of the floor.
If balance is an issue then you can do this sitting down or holding onto something.

This will get the knee warm and if you do it balancing you’ll be warming up the ankle further and helping to get you core engaged.
By raising the leg you’ll also be contributing to the hips getting warm.

Hips:

The hips have a lot more movements available than the knee. So I’ve got a few more exercises here.

First is flexion to extension.
Starting with you hands on the wall bring your knee up to the front, then gently lift it out to the back as far as comfortable.
try to avoid arching the back to much throughout and try not let your pelvis twist as you lift you leg to the back.

I follow this with abduction and adduction, raising the leg to the side and crossing the leg to the other side.

Again try to avoid letting the pelvis move excessively. some movement is fine but to keep the warm up targeting the hips you need to have control of the pelvis.

The next exercise will be working the same types of hip movement as the first exercise.
I include it in my warm as it is one of the fundamental movements that I will drill all of my clients on before I advance them onto the various compound lifts.

The Hip Hinge

The aim of this exercise is to practice the discipline of hinging at the hip, which then applies directly to movements like squats and deadlifts.
It’s often very difficult in the beginning to complete this movement without arching the back!
The knees are soft throughout to reduce the tension in the back of the legs and as you bring the torso forward the spine has to stay neutral or as close to the same shape as possible all the wall through.
As you can see in the pictures my upper arms are staying alongside my body. This is to keep the shoulder blades in the same place which contributes to keeping th back in the same shape.
Typically in hip hinging movements if you allow the shoulder blades to move forward your upper back will curve as they go forward and then the low back will curve in response.

The Trunk:

The trunk is basically your core and you ribcage.
The core being all of the muscles around the low back and abdomen.
The spine and the ribcage are very mobile but unfortunately the will become stiff from inactivity, working in offices, driving and from whiplash. Even relaxing in your chair will stiffen you up.

Continuing with working from the bottom up, side bends are a great way of warming up the lower back, the spine in this part of the back doesn’t twist a great deal but has a lot of movement available for bending.
Try to avoid leaning as you move side to side.

This will warm up the deeper core muscles along the back and some of the core.
As well as warming into the smaller muscle around the sign and contributing to the rehydration of the discs in your spine.

Trunk Rotations, or twists, target the middle section of the spine(thoracic) and all of the rib attachments along the spine.
While maintaining an upright position rotate your shoulder to look behind you.
Where possible try to avoid twisting your pelvis to keep your hips pointing forward.
This will keep the movement in the spine.

This will get your upper back moving, as well as warming up a lot of different muscles around you core and shoulders it will help counter some of the stiffness that creeps in everyday.

The Shoulders:

The Shoulders are a very versatile and complicated joint!
There are many exercises that are great for warming them up as well as a myriad of strength and flexibility exercises for them.
These two are staples that I use very regularly.

Raising your chest pull your shoulder blades back and put your arms out to the sides, then allowing your back to arch and your head to drop forward reach as far as you can to the front.

Moving  between the two positions will get all the big muscles in you upper back and chest warmed up as well as getting the shoulder-blade moving through a large range of motion.

The last exercise in this post is arm rotations.
Starting with you arm overhead, reach backward and smoothly move your arm down.
Then bring your arm up at the front.
Your ribcage will move as you reach back, but try to ensure that you’re getting as much movement out of your shoulder-blade as possible.

By working from bottom to the top like this you will warm up all of the joints through your legs, trunk and shoulder.
All of the exercises will contribute to an improvement in flexibility and well as the stability of the joints and if you doing them regularly it will help overcome the stiffness that very easily builds up throughout the body.

I would often follow this warm up routine with the neck routine I have in another blog post which you can find with this link.

I would also often then follow that by completing the level 1 stretches from this blog post

Thanks for reading
Chris

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