Leg Muscle Warm Up Exercises

Leg Muscle Warm Up ExercisesMany stretching routines often involve a particular part of the day in which you may or may not be moving around and the body may not be ready for such activity.  Stretching is most effective when it incorporates warm-up activities mainly because it prepares the muscles for expansion.  In addition, muscles are most elastic when they are warm, meaning stretching should only occur when the muscles are warmed.  But what happens if you are on a stretching program which occurs directly after waking in the morning or when you are at work following your lunch break?  Chances are, your body is not warmed properly and it is not ready for stretching activity.  Because of this, a simple series of warm-up activities can assist in warming the body, particularly the muscles and tendons, to improve the efficacy of the stretches.

The following exercises are intended to warm the lower portion of the body so as to assist in a stretching program.  A regular stretching program can help prevent range of motion abnormalities and can help keep the muscles at their highest performance.  Stretching the muscle fibers should include holding the stretch for about 30 seconds each muscle group, but it is highly recommended to stretch a muscle group that is ready for work.  In order to prepare the muscle group for stretching, follow the simple steps below to adequately warm your legs.

5 Great Leg Muscle Warm Up Exercises

  1. One Legged Lunges. A one legged lunge just means that you are not alternating legs, meaning one leg gets attention at a time.  Performing a one legged lunge can help stretch out the hip flexor muscles and can also increase muscular activity in the thighs, making this an exercise to perform if you are planning to stretch the quads [1].  Perform one to two sets of lunges for each leg for a good warm-up.
  2. Light Jogging. If you are a future runner or already a runner, you know the importance of a light jog to warm the entire body.  The same applies for a stretching program; a light jog in place can effectively warm the legs, calves, hamstrings, and glutes within two minutes.  Aim for a light jog in place for about two minutes and avoid a high knee jog in place to prevent using too much energy pre-workout.  Perform this warm-up prior to any leg stretching you plan to do.
  3. Dynamic Stretching. Dynamic stretching is an exercise where the limb or body part is moved through a range of motion.  One example of a dynamic stretch is leg swings prior to a 400-meter run.  The key to this type of warm-up is to make it specific to the area in which you are planning to stretch.  Dynamic stretching works best prior to static stretching because the dynamic nature of the stretch works muscles you plan to be working [2].  Some exercises to aim for include leg circles, leg swings, leg kick outs, knee ups, or kickbacks.
  4. Knees-to-chest. Whether this is performed while marching in place or while lying in a supine position, knees being raised to the chest allow the legs to warm-up effectively while stretching the glute area.  Perform one to two sets of these and follow this with a quad or hamstring stretch.
  5. Jumping Jacks. Similar to running in place, this exercise will warm the entire body up. Performing light jumping jacks will warm up the leg muscles, most notably the inner thigh muscles and the outer hips (IT band).  Perform jumping jacks if you are looking to stretch the IT band area or if you are attempting to stretch the inner thigh muscles (groin muscles).



[1] http://www.livestrong.com/article/537454-leg-muscle-warm-up-exercises/

[2] http://greatist.com/fitness/full-body-dynamic-warm-up

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