Incorporating a dynamic warm-up prior to athletic activity and training is the preferred way to prime the body for exercise. This particular movement is an effective drill for addressing hip and thoracic spine mobility that can be implemented as part of a movement preparation sequence. It utilizes three distinct patterns that can be separated or segmented based on the client's ability or needs.

Begin standing tall with both feet together. Pull the left knee up toward the chest until a stretch is felt. Pause at the top prior to lunging forward with the left leg while tucking the left elbow inside the thigh and supporting the upper body with the right hand. Focus on keeping both feet pointing forward as you descend and crouch down.

Next, slowly rotate the torso to the left leading with the left hand/arm. Allow the eyes to follow the arm to facilitate maximal rotation. Pause at the end range and then return to the lunge position prior to standing up. Repeat the sequence with the right leg. Perform 3-5 repetitions on each side.

This is is an effective way to mobilize and activate the glutes, improve hip mobility and facilitate t-spine mobility. Done properly, this warm-up maneuver will also enhance balance and hip stability. An advanced progression involves adding a heel raise (bottom leg) at the top of the knee hug prior to descending into the lunge.

Seek a comfortable stretch one each side, but do not force trunk rotation beyond the available range of motion. It will be easy to observe any side-to-side thoracic spine asymmetry by facing and standing in line with the client. This positioning will also enable you to see any frontal plane deviation that occurs in single leg support or weight acceptance that may indicate gluteal weakness.

Additional notes:
The goal of this activity is quality purposeful movement. As such, I tend to limit total repetitions to about five on each side given this exercise will serve as just one component of the entire warm-up. If the client struggles with any particular portion of the combined exercise, isolate the faulty movement and refine the pattern until it can be integrated fluidly into the full movement sequence.

Brian Schiff, PT, OCS, CSCS, is a licensed physical therapist, respected author and fitness professional. Currently, he serves as the supervisor at Athletes' Performance at Raleigh Orthopaedic. Brian presents nationally at several professional conferences and seminars on injury prevention, rehab and sport-specific training. For more cutting edge training information, subscribe to his monthly Training & Sports Medicine Update at


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