Tips and Principles of an Effective Warm up

The Bones image shutter pdAn effective warm-up is a group of exercises performed immediately before an activity that provides the body with a transition from rest to exercise. It provides the body with an adequate adjustment period in order to move effectively without over straining at the beginning of a workout, a game, a movement class or a performance whether artistic or athletic.  An effective warm up is an opportunity to awaken the body/mind towards inner kinesthetic listening, towards dynamic alignment, and a progression to warm core body temperature without fatiguing the system. Each body often needs a unique series of preparatory movements to prepare for exertion and action. It is important to identify your specific needs, and follow some general guidelines as well.

FA Warm-up Tips 

  1. tripod footHeighten kinesthetic awareness to improve proprioception:

    Take a quiet moment to come into the practice of listening to your body. Release unnecessary tension. For example, whether you begin standing or lying down, let your feet contact the floor. Consider the tripod of balance of the feet to restore balance.
  1. Bring attention to breathing to facilitate breath support in action:Integrating a meditative or controlled breathing practice into your warm allows the respiratory system of the heart and lungs to awaken and support the actions needed in full activity. Shallow or tidal breathing does not always fully support the rigors of dance or athletic activity. Inhale through the nose with an audible exhale through the mouth into your beginning movements to begin to integrate the breathing system with the neuromuscular requirements of your work out.
  1. Slowly increase joint range of movement to develop elasticity in the muscular & myofascial systems:
    To increase in the resiliency of the muscles and tendons, begin with easeful action. Avoid doing movements that demand maximum rage of movement in the warm up. Practice a smaller or slower version of your intended activity to warm up the joint actions progressively.
  1. Warm up the spine. Begin with a gentle sequence through the motions of the spine/trunk:
    The motions of the trunk are flexion, extension, lateral flexion right, lateral flexion left, rotation right and rotation left. In other words, gentle fold forward and then arch back, bend easily to the right and then left followed by spiraling by looking and rotating around to the right and then to the left.
  1. Increase your heart rate:
    This delivers more oxygen and glucose to the muscles for energy production, leads to more efficient transmission of signals along motor nerves, so the muscles can react in a more coordinated manner. For example, modern dancer/choreographer Murray Lewis would suggest begin walking and then move into easy running in the studio for 2-5 minutes.  You can move your arms through a swimming crawl movement then run backwards and do the back stroke with your arms, run forward doing the breast stroke, and finish with the action of the swimming butterfly action in the arms. This whole body movement at a gentle run raises heart rate and moves most synovial joints into action.


These tips are accumulated from the many years of coaching, teaching and training dancers, actors, musicians, and athletes, as well as information and wisdom from the following sources:   

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