When I was a dancer in my younger years, the teacher always had to start class with a warmup. It would take anywhere from 20-30 minutes and would be dreaded by all of us kids in the class. The last thing we wanted to do was a bunch of shoulder rolls and hip circles- We were there to learn and perform a routine! We were way more interested in showing off our high kicks, double axels and landing our pirouettes in unison.
You can just picture it now: 12-15 adolescent girls and boys standing on spaces marked by a taped ‘X’ on the floor, essentially forming perfect rows of dancers. All our hair was slicked back into tight buns and we all wore the same dance gear- black jazz pants, tight spaghetti tanks with sports bras and black soft soled jazz shoes. As a 90’s dance hit blasted through the sound system, we would all blank stare at the teacher through the mirror and mimic her rhythmic ribcage ‘rotations’.
As a kid I never really understood the point of the warmup, aside from that it got me feeling warm and sweaty. I never really understood why this was ‘oh so important’ to waste half of our rehearsal time on.
Then during one of my performances at the BC Provincials Festival, I threw my back out on stage and became injured. (I later found out that I had severely injured my SI joint from too much mobility in my low back with a lack of stability (core strength) to support it).
Immediately following that performance, I was advised to withdraw from BC Provincials and was prescribed to see a sports chiropractor. To help rehabilitate my injury, he gave me take home exercises. They focused mainly on core strength and some dynamic movements that focused on control and stability through my lumbar spine. I was to go through the exercises every day, preferably right before my dance rehearsals. What I found the most interesting was that these exercises were very similar to the warm up movements that we were given in dance classes. The only big difference was that I was doing these new exercises with purpose and intent.
Fast forward to having my education now as a fitness professional who has been studying human movement and physiology for a decade. Warm ups are not only an opportunity to elevate heart rate and get blood pumping to the muscles (which in turn decreases your risk of injury significantly), but they are a tool in which I now use with clients to help prepare the body for their workouts.
Going to be working on your pulling muscles in the gym with resistance? Begin with some comparable movement patterns to help perfect and prepare your muscles for the work, such as a short 600m row on the Ski Urg or perhaps a set of scapular squeezes. Maybe you know that you will have to be completing more transfers than normal in one day? Try beginning with some shoulder and core activation work to help support you during those extra transfers, like Rope Pulls or seated Cat/Cow drills (these exercises can be found in the programs here.)
Warm up may seem boring and even exhausting sometimes to complete, but a warmup is where our progress starts. If you give your warm up a purpose and match it to compliment the bulk of your exercise selection, it will not only make it easier to complete but it will give every dynamic movement a purpose and intent. If we are just only just going through the motions without thinking about why we are doing them, then you may as well not warm up and expect your first few sets of exercises to be performed like one; and with a greater risk of injury.
If you are an Insider, don’t forget to check the warm up section in the workout selection menu. Otherwise if you would like to try a free workout with a complimentary warm up included, please click here.