Stepping into a workout with cold muscles is an injury waiting to happen — and your arms are no exception.
Dynamic arm stretches are the perfect way to improve your mobility and prep your muscles for exercise, whether you're doing an upper-body workout or getting ready for a game of tennis or golf. Plus, they can help keep you injury-free for many workouts to come, according to Jereme Schumacher, DPT, a California-based physical therapist.
For stronger, safer arms, warm up with these dynamic stretches for your arms.
Move 1: Arm Circle
- Hold both of your arms out to your sides at shoulder height.
- Moving only from your shoulders, trace small circles in the air with your hands. Start with small circles, making them bigger with each rotation until your arms move as far as they can in each direction.
- After about 30 seconds, switch directions.
Move 2: Scissor Stretch
- Hold both arms out to your sides at shoulder height.
- Keeping your elbows straight, move both arms straight front of your chest. Cross your left arm above your right arm.
- Move your arms back behind your shoulders as far as possible.
- Repeat the same motion, crossing your right over your left.
- Alternate moving back and forth, switching your top arm with each rep.
This dynamic arm stretch relieves tension in the front deltoids, pecs, upper back, biceps and triceps — that's why it's one of the best tennis stretches out there. Each movement is a lot like swinging a racket.
Move 3: Overhead Dynamic Triceps Stretch
- Raise your left arm straight above your head and bend your elbow to lower your palm to your back.
- Place your right hand near your raised elbow and gently pull it toward your body and down.
- Pause, then release and straighten your arm back overhead.
- Repeat this motion and switch sides.
Move 4: Dynamic Cross-Body Shoulder Stretch
- Bring your left arm up to shoulder height and bring it across your body, toward your right shoulder.
- Hook your left arm around your elbow, then gently pull your right arm against your chest.
- Pause, then release and extend your arm out to your side and repeat.
- When you finish all your reps, switch sides.
Move 5: Wrist Flexion and Extension Drill
- Hold your left arm straight out in front of your body at shoulder height with your palm facing up.
- With your other hand, pull back on your fingers to feel a gentle stretch in your forearm.
- Pause, then raise your palm toward your forearm, gently pulling the fingers back toward you.
- Alternate here, then switch sides.
Move 6: Forward Overhead Swing
- Start by standing with your arms to your side and feet about shoulder-width apart
- Take one small step forward on your left leg as you swing both arms overhead
- Swing your arms back down as you step back.
- Repeat the same process while stepping forward with the other foot.
- Alternate back and forth.
Allow your hips to come forward as you step forward and swing your arms overhead, Schumacher recommends. This allows for a greater stretch through your arms and abdomen.
Move 7: Lateral Overhead Reach
- Stand with your arms to your sides, feet about shoulder-width apart
- Take a small step forward, crossing your left foot over your right foot.
- Reach overhead with your right arm and stretch your upper body to your left side, keeping your lower body rooted.
- Lower your arm back down as you return to starting position
- Repeat on the opposite side.
"You should feel this stretch on the side of your trunk, and you can increase the intensity of the stretch by reaching farther over your head," Schumacher says.
Additional reporting by Bojana Galic.