Maybe it’s happened to you before.
You were trying to squeeze a workout into an already packed day so you decided to skip your five-minute stretching warm-up to buy a little extra “me” time. But then, during the workout, you pushed a little too hard. Instantly, you felt the hot, sharp pain of a muscle strain. If only you’d taken the few minutes to run through your pre-workout stretch, you might have saved yourself some actual pain.
“Stretching, specifically dynamic stretching, is an important part of preparing for your workout,” says Mike Sapp, owner of Sapp Fitness and the athletic mastermind behind the Ward Village Bootcamp. “It helps you gradually raise your body temperature, improves your proprioception, increases your range of motion, and enhances your movement patterns.” In short, dynamic stretching prepares your body for a solid workout by keeping your muscles flexible and strong to maintain a healthy range of motion in your joints.
Without proper, consistent stretching, your muscles naturally shorten and become tight. Think about how you feel after sitting in a chair for hours on end. Naturally, your hamstrings, neck, and shoulders may become sore. Your back may even begin to ache. When muscles are tight, they become prone to injury—joint pain, strains, and muscle damage. So if you jump up out of that chair and transition right into strenuous physical activity, like a virtual boot camp or another aerobic workout, your muscles can be damaged if suddenly tested.
That’s where stretching comes into play. Daily stretching is a great solution to keep muscles long, lean, and flexible. In turn, healthy muscles support healthy joints, which support a healthy range of motion in all your activities. If you can’t muster the time for short, daily stretching, try to stretch at least three to four times a week. Consistent stretching over time is the key to maintaining or increasing flexibility.
And when it comes to specific athletic activities, like running, surfing, swimming, or a strenuous Ward Village Bootcamp workout, dynamic stretching is optimal. In essence, you’re making your stretches sport-specific. You don’t need to stretch every muscle in your body. If your warming up before a surf session, stretch the muscles you’ll be engaging in the water, the muscles you’ll be using the most, the hip flexors in the pelvis, and the muscles around your shoulders and neck.
Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves indoors much more than we’re used to and struggling to maintain the level of physical activity we so dearly cherished previous to mandatory stay-at-home orders. Thanks to Mike Sapp and the knowledgeable instructors at Sapp Fitness, they’ve transitioned their Ward Village Bootcamp sessions online and tailored their workouts to fit your uplift your new socially distanced reality.
With morning and evening classes on Tuesdays and Saturdays, Mike suggests engaging these five dynamic stretches prior to your virtual Bootcamp workout. Start off light and increase the intensity as your muscles warm-up. You should feel tension, but not pain. Remember to breathe normally and don’t bounce, which can cause injury.
Lay on your side with a straight spine, your knees tucked up so they are in line with your hips, and arms reaching forward. With your top arm sweep up to the sky then down to the ground behind you as you try to pin your back to the ground. You should feel the stretch across your torso.
Back or Cat/Cow
Kneel down on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Round your back like a cat, then arch like a cow. Bonus tip: for each rep, focus on a different part of your spine. For example, focus on your lower back for the first two reps, the middle of your spine for the second two, and your upper back for the last one.
From a standing position, take a big step forward, placing the opposite hand on the ground for stability and drop the back knee to the ground. Lower your elbow down to your ankle. You should feel the stretch in the front of your back leg and the back of your front leg.
Lunge to T
From a standing position, take a big step forward, placing the same-side hand on the ground for stability while you rotate your torso and opposite arm up to the sky.