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Four Simple Stretches for a Triathlon Warm-Up

Your bike is racked, transition area is all set up. Helmet, bike shoes, sunglasses, running shoes, nutrition, tires pumped, race number, sunscreen, body glide, body marked. Check.

What did I forget? Oh yeah, I forgot to warm up for the race!

When you’re limited on space and unable to get in the water for a pre-race warm-up swim—as is the case at the New York City Triathlon—there are simple dynamic mobility exercises that can replace the warm-up swim or easy run that you might do otherwise.

I find that, due to nerves, the movement to set up your bike and transition area and the warmth of racing in the summer makes getting your heart rate up to an acceptable pre-race effort easy for triathlon. (And for anyone doing the NYC Triathlon, there’s also the walk from transition to the swim start to get the blood flowing.)

But there is great benefit in bringing it down a notch, visualizing transitions, breathing and mobilizing muscles and joints that you will use throughout the day.

Here is a quick set of pre-race dynamic mobility exercises for the hips and thoracic spine to activate muscles and mobilize joints. These exercises should take no more than 10 minutes, giving you time to relax and focus your mind on what’s to come. The movements should be controlled, using muscle contractions to move through a comfortable range while breathing and focusing.

Four Pre-Race Dynamic Mobility Exercises

Hip Flexor to Hamstring Stretch: In a kneeling lunge position, move your hips forward as you reach up and back to stretch the hip flexor of the back leg, then move your hips back as you reach forward to stretch the hamstring of the front leg. Keep it moving, controlling the motion with the core and muscles around your hips.

Dynamic Hip Flexor Stretch in Standing: Do a posterior lunge while reaching up and overhead with both arms, alternating legs. Perform 10 with overhead reaches, then 10 rotating towards the front leg. Think of a long line from your toes to your fingertips as you will when you swim.

Shoulder Flexion and Rotation Drill: Reach up overhead with your right arm as you reach across your body with your left. Repeat to the other side.

T-Spine Extension on Fence or Bench (NOT bike rack!!!): With both hands on a bar, drive your hips back as you maintain tension through your arms. Do 10 with both arms, then alternate, extending your arm back as if pushing through the water.

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