Before jumping into your day or at the beginning of a back workout, it's important to wake your body up with a proper warm-up. The first priority should be to raise your body temperature and elevate your heart rate.
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The second priority is to stretch your muscles and bring your joints through their full range of motion so they're primed for more aggressive movements. Dynamic stretching is the best form of warming up because it accomplishes both things.
What Is Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretching is a type of warm-up where you stretch while moving. It's a middle ground between static stretching (holding a stretch) and ballistic stretching, where you move explosively.
You can use dynamic stretching before any workout or sport. According to a 2008 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, it helps improve your performance more than static stretching.
5 of the Best Dynamic Back Stretches
Warming up your back requires you to warm up the muscles as well as the joints, particularly your spine. It's important to use different movements to warm up your spine, such as forward and backward bending and rotation. The spine is made to move in different ways, which is why you need different types of movements to warm it up.
The back muscles that run parallel along your spine — like the multifidus and erector spinae — can be stretched with forward and backward bending like the toe touch. The latissimus dorsi (the lats) is the big muscle group that runs along the side of your back and can be stretched by using a few different shoulder movements.
Here are five to include in your next back workout warm-up. Perform each of them for 30 to 45 seconds.
Read more: The Best Yoga Moves for Your Back
1. Toe Touch Overhead Reach
Take your spine through a full range of motion with this fast-paced version of the toe touch.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand tall with your arms by your waist. Bend down to touch your toes and stick your butt back. Go as far down as possible with your knees straight (but not locked), and then stand up tall, reaching your arms up overhead and bending back slightly. Repeat slowly, giving your back time to stretch and get warm.
2. Standing Bicycle
This exercise combines the rotation of your spine with a slight forward bend. Think about it like doing bicycle crunches while standing up.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand tall with your hands behind your head. Raise your right knee and twist your upper body to touch your left elbow to the right knee, and then rotate back to standing up straight. Keep switching sides, left knee to right elbow then right knee to left elbow.
3. World's Greatest Stretch
Use this stretch not only to loosen up your back, but also to open up your hips and shoulders.
HOW TO DO IT: From standing, lunge forward with your right foot. Drop your left knee down to the ground and plant your left hand next to your right foot. Raise your right arm toward the ceiling and turn to the right. Stand back up and switch sides. Continue alternating sides for the full 30 to 45 seconds.
4. Dynamic Lat Stretch
This exercise stretches your latissimus dorsi, one of the largest muscles in your upper body.
HOW TO DO IT: Attach a resistance band to a fixed object slightly higher than shoulder height. Grab the band with one hand and step back so that your arm is straight. Stick your butt back and lean over, maintaining a flat back and straight arm. Turn your upper body toward the arm holding the band and look under it. Turn back to center and switch arms.
5. Active Hang
Gravity helps you stretch your back in this exercise.
HOW TO DO IT: Hold onto a pull-up bar and hang with your feet off the ground and your arms straight. Relax and let your shoulders rise up. Then, pull yourself up slightly while keeping your arms straight by pulling your shoulder blades down into your back. Then, relax and let your shoulders stretch.
Read more: The Ultimate Back Strength Workout
What Do YOU Think?
Do you use dynamic stretching in your warm-ups? What other kinds of things do you do during your warm-up? Have you ever done any of these stretches before? Are there others you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!