The Safest and Best Way to Warm up Before a Workout

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Are you still going into the gym and straight to your stretching mat with cold muscles to “warm up” before a workout? I hope not!

I have a special guest for today’s episode: Jason McQueen of McFit Personal Training. Jason has 17 years of experience in the fitness, strength and conditioning world. He is my personal trainer 2 times per week and one of my four original apprentices learning the work fascial integration work I’ve developed (and he’s almost done with his training!)

Jason is here to show us the safest and best way to warm up before a workout:

DYNAMIC STRETCHING

You’ve heard me say a hundred times by now that I’m not a fan of static stretching at all, and this is especially true if you’re going into a workout cold and looking to ‘stretch’ before you get after it.

There may be a lot of people who will disagree with me on this, but personally I’d rather we not stretch at all before something like a trail run and use the first minute or two to run slow and easy as our “warm-up” than go through a 10 minute static stretch routine with cold muscles. So if you’re pressed for time and you just want to run, go for it. Just don’t sprint straight out the door and expect your body to automatically become fluid and “warm” right away; ease into your fast pace and your body will thank you.

If you ARE looking for a better way to warm up and you have a few minutes to spare before your workouts, dynamic stretching is my absolute favorite way to do so.

What this means is we are moving our bodies dynamically rather than statically; we’re MOVING through stretches without holding them for more than a few seconds. This takes our muscles and fascia through flexion and extension in easy, natural ranges of motion, starts to pump blood and lymph through our system and actually does “warm” our bodies up in a gentle, gradual way.

There are a TON of dynamic stretches out there. Today we are covering a BASIC and simple routine that you can use before any workout, whether in the gym or outside on the trail or a soccer field.

You may want a sport specific routine if you’re a serious athlete, or perhaps you want a FULL dynamic stretching routine. We’ll be showing you sport specific dynamic warm-ups in coming episodes and we’ll definitely get you access to a full routine soon.

If you want to UP your warm-up game to top notch:

If you have 15-30 minutes before a workout and you want to dedicate this time to injury recovery and/or prevention and give your body the BEST chance of performing well, use some of your favorite dynamic stretching techniques, add in a few PNF stretches (click here for my how-to video for PNF stretching) and then use your foam roller, lacrosse ball and other mobility tools to target key areas of your fascia to optimize your soft tissue’s health.

Give this a try and boost the quality of your workouts!

 

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PNF Stretching – Bigger Flexibility Gains Without the Dangers of Static Stretching

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What’s the best way to stretch?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions I get, and the answer is finally here!

If you want to increase flexibility, stay limber, mobile and healthy then “stretching” is a favorite the world over for all of these, but…exactly HOW should you be stretching?

If you’ve been hanging out with me here at Mobility Mastery for any length of time then you’re probably aware that I’m not a fan of static stretching (going into a linear stretch and holding it for an extended period of time). In fact I adamantly oppose it for most people most of the time. This is because taking “cold” muscles into intense stretches and forcing all your tissues to stay lengthened greatly increases the chances those same tissues will resist being pulled on, which means risking micro tears, stretch reflexes and generally doing more harm than good.

The potential benefits of static stretching simply aren’t worth the risks (in my opinion). Besides…there are FAR BETTER ways to stretch that not only yield better results for increasing flexibility and range of motion but have nearly zero potential for harm if performed correctly.

So what’s the BEST method of stretching?

My personal favorite way to stretch is called PNF stretching. PNF stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.

In the above video I talk about the basic principles behind PNF and show you a simple PNF stretching routine for 4 basic muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, calves and chest. Instructions for specific stretches starts at 2:37.

But first…

Before you stretch, know your WHY:

Why do you want to stretch? Is it for sport specific reasons like being a gymnast or dancer?

Are you trying to stretch your way out of pain?

Do you simply want to maintain healthy muscles and range of motion?

All of the above?

Read More

Master Mobility by Learning the Distinctions Between Flexibility, Inflexibility and Fascial Restriction Issues; Part 1 of 3

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“Will I be able to do the splits after you work on me?”

I’ve been asked this quite a few times when new clients walk into my office. My rise to fame would be meteoric if I could perform such a feat! The answer is NO, it doesn’t work that way.

Just because you are so flexible you can wrap yourself into a pretzel does NOT mean your fascia is healthy. Conversely, just because your fascia is healthy (maybe you’ve become a fascial release ninja?!) does NOT necessarily mean you will achieve an increase in flexibility. Though it might…

There is definitely some overlap and if you’re going to win the game of mastering your mobility, then it’s critical to understand the distinctions.

I’m going to do my best to break this down and make the info WORK for you and your goals.

This is PART ONE of a THREE PART series.

What does it mean to be flexible?

We all need to be flexible to a certain degree to perform everyday tasks: bending over to pick children or groceries up; being able to sit, walk and move with ease.

Take flexibility a step further and you might think of the people next to you in yoga who can go all the way into pigeon pose without screaming (definitely not me), or sit comfortably in a deep squat with perfect form and no knee pain (me!)

Take it to an even greater extreme and we’re talking about those people are so bendy it doesn’t even seem “right.” These are usually gymnasts, dancers, performers or dedicated yogis who have taken their practice to a totally different level: the human pretzel! (Yikes).

What does it mean to have healthy fascia?

Healthy fascia is SPACIOUS and fluid, well lubricated and springy, strong AND elastic (SUPPLE). Spacious is the KEY word.

When your fascia is in an optimal state it won’t hurt AT ALL when weight or compression is applied. That means you could have a sumo wrestler standing with his full weight on your IT Band and it wouldn’t hurt a bit! True story. (Actually I haven’t tested that one yet, but I should! Ha. That picture to the right is me devilishly excited to work on my apprentice’s IT Band, AND it demonstrates my hyper-mobile elbow and shoulder joints).

If your entire fascial system is healthy, it will act as one unit like a highly adaptive SPRING (click here for a specific post on this), allowing us to sprint, jump and fall with minimal impact on our bones.

We have as our birthright the ability to play and move as we want because our fascial system is designed to absorb impact AND allow us to spring out of jumps and steps with fluid elasticity.

Most of us, however, have unhealthy fascia to varying degrees and don’t even know how GOOD we can feel because fascia is only JUST beginning to make a name for itself within the fitness, medical and alternative wellness worlds. Getting our fascia healthy should NOT be limited (in my opinion) just to those of us in pain! Kind of like eating well and being active, the healthier our fascia the better we will feel in our bodies on a daily basis and PREVENT all kinds of soft tissue and joint pain as we age.

Distinctions between Flexibility, Hyper-mobility and Inflexibility:

Read More

Two Easy Stretches for Your Shoulder JOINT that FEEL GOOD & Increase ROM

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These are two great stretches for your shoulder JOINT.

If you have stiff shoulders, a partially frozen shoulder (please do not attempt this if you have a fully frozen shoulder!) or you’re a serious Oly or weight lifter then these two stretches could benefit you.

I don’t have a lot to add here that isn’t in the video. This one is best explained on camera!

I learned both of these stretches 4 years ago from my personal trainer when I was doing a lot of Olympic lifting and he wanted to make sure my shoulders were warmed up properly.

I’ve shown these stretches to clients who have very stiff shoulder joints, those who have had shoulder surgery and have some scar tissue in and around the joint, and to the few clients I’ve worked with who have partially frozen shoulders. They’ve all really liked them and, when used regularly, have reported an increase in range of motion and more ease in the joint.

Get the most out of these stretches:

  • Make sure with both of these techniques that the angle of your lower and upper arm, AND humerus (upper arm) and body are at 90 degrees (as pictured to the right)
  • DO NOT PUSH BEYOND A GOOD STRETCH
  • You shouldn’t be cranking down on your joint with a lot of force, nor should these stretches feel painful; these work better with a gentle approach and the stretch should feel mostly GOOD
  • Use PNF principles to get the best result: PNF stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, and the idea is to use GENTLE muscle activation by pushing against the direction of the stretch in a resisted manner for about 3 seconds.
  • After you do this, release the stretch completely, then repeat.
  • PLEASE watch the video for a demonstration of what this all means.
  • I like to repeat the PNF stretch 3 times, and then
  • On the last repitition (the 4th) HOLD THE STRETCH
  • Hold the last stretch for anywhere from 20 seconds to a minute, then move around

 

 

If you liked this post please “like” and share it!

Subscribe here and on YouTube for new posts every Monday.

For personalized help with head to toe pain issues, click here to schedule a private Skype consultation with Elisha Celeste. SUBSCRIBE below and get $15 off your first session.