Two weeks ago, I asked Matt to check my squat form at the gym. I had 165 pounds on my back, which is not as heavy as I typically go in a session. I squatted about half way down, winced in pain and re-racked the bar. Matt assumed it was my lower back but it wasn’t. I told him I felt like I blew out my back, as if the thoracic muscles ripped away from my spine. Okay, I’m a girl, so I’m a bit dramatic. But I literally think they just ripped away from the vertebrae. And three hours later when I stiffened up…yikes, that was rough.
Matt says I don’t warm up well enough. Of course I didn’t want to hear that. But I’m definitely sold on needing a better warm up now. I’m super tired of these back injuries!
Through my years of playing sports and working with personal trainers, doing at-home P90X workouts, two things I absolutely know:
- You have to warm up.
- Everyone has a different regime or philosophy on “warming up”.
I will tell you that at 33, I am just realizing that my former warm ups have not been sufficient. In volleyball, I’d fling the ball back and forth to my partner a few times, do some bouncing up and down and think I was ready to go. In the dance studio, we did a lot of static stretching. Furthermore, almost all of my lower body stretching was hamstring-based.
Now that I have decided to learn and listen, I can say I haven’t stretched my hamstrings for about one year. That’s right, none of my warm up entails a hamstring stretch. My hammys are beyond flexible enough; I need to work on the opposing muscles.
Here is a glimpse at the warm up I will be doing today and pretty much do every time I go to the gym. It is a bit time consuming, but necessary:
- Foam rolling – quads, IT band, hip flexors and upper back.
- Single leg hip flexor stretch on floor (pull heel to butt and rock with opposing hand against the wall) – 8x per leg x 2 sets
- Groin stretch of my choice (dynamic)
- Wall slides and thoracic area exercises 8x, at least 2 set
- Scapula push ups (I do from a knee position)
- Glute bridges 10 x2
- SIngle leg glute squeezes (I’m sure there is a better term) 10 x 2
- Jumping jacks OR bodyweight squats (depending on my workout for the day)
If that made you dizzy or bored, here’s basically what changes I’ve made:
- FOAM ROLLING
- DYNAMIC warm up, few to no static stretching or holds
- TAKE THE TIME and make sure my nervous system is ignited for the muscle groups I will be using (ie) – glute bridges and body weight squats for lower body heavy lift days
Trust me, from one impatient, warmer-upper to another — I will not skim on warm ups ever again. Being injured or not feeling good when it’s time to perform your work sets just takes the fun out of working out.
Have a great weekend!