Winter Warm-Ups

Indoor performance places different demands on the body. Decrease strains on joints and muscles with specific warm-ups and stretches.

Football season is over, and that means it’s time for winter guard and percussion. Winter guard places different demands on the body due to performing in a gym with choreography unlike what is encountered during marching season. Here are some ways to keep your body in top performance.

Hip Warm-Up

Sitting in a bus on the way to a competition compresses the hip flexor.

To open the hips, take a wide stance; your feet should be about two to three feet apart. Press the outer edges of your feet into the ground—if this is difficult, place a rolled towel or sweatshirt underneath your heels. If this is not an option, lift the heels and press into the toes. Squat down. Your bottom should be between your feet. Place your hands together and press the outsides of your elbows into the insides of your knees. Lengthen your spine. As you inhale, lift the crown of your head toward the ceiling. As you exhale, lower your hips closer to the ground. Take at least five breaths in this position.

Shock Absorbers

Due to the fact that competitions take place in a gym, your knees end up absorbing a lot of shock when coming down from a jump. Make sure to bend your knees to a greater degree before and after you jump—your choreography should already take this into account. However, even with bent knees, the calves and hamstring muscles will absorb some of the shock from jumping and running around a gym. Thus warming up the knees, calves and hamstrings are critical during winter guard.

Start seated with your legs straight out in front of you. If you feel tension in your lower back, bend your knees slightly. Place your palms firmly into the ground right at the sides of your hips, not behind you. Lengthen your spine. Take three long breaths.

Use a towel, yoga strap or theraband; hold the ends and loop the middle of your strap outside your feet. Pull slightly back on the strap. Flex your feet a lot. You should feel a stretch in your calves. Take at least three breaths.

Take your right foot inside your left thigh and flex both feet. Inhale with your arms up by your ears, shoulders down. Slightly twist to the left. Lower forward. If this position is difficult, place your hands on the sides of your left knee, lengthen your spine at a diagonal and take five long breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Standing up with your feet hip distance apart, toes pointed forward, exhale and bend your knees over your toes. Press strongly into your heels. Straighten your knees as you inhale. Do this several times, at least 10 reps.

Cool Down

After performing, take a few minutes to cool down. Sit close to a wall. Lie on your side and scoot your bottom against the wall. Release your legs straight up the wall as you lie on your back. Bend your knees if you feel any tightness in your lower back. Take your hands to your stomach and breathe deeply.

If your calves feel tight, fill a paper cup with water and freeze. Once the water is frozen, peel the top part of the cup away from the ice. Rub ice into the back of your calves. This massage will release any knots or tightness.

About the Author

After dancing since the age of 3, Haley Greenwald-Gonella thought it was time to try a new art. In elementary school, she began playing the flute and was in the marching band in middle school and for the first two years of high school. She also played the bassoon during concert season. Dance drew Haley back while in high school.

She graduated from the University of California, Irvine, with degrees in dance and English. She is now attending the University of Southern California and is getting her master’s degree in Specialized Journalism (The Arts).

Haley is also a certified registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance. She draws upon her dance and yoga training when it comes to all things fitness and the arts.

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