Dynamic Warm-Ups for People with Joint Issues

Maurice Williams | 20 Dec 2016

Dynamic warm-ups have become popular over the past 5-10 years. We use them with our clients on a regular basis. They have become so popular that even non fitness professionals use them in workouts. Even though they have become popular and standard in our field, does this mean any and everybody should be doing them? What about clients with joint issues?

Well, I believe that just about anyone on the surface can handle dynamic warm-ups.  However, this can only be done if they are properly progressed.  I’d like to cover with you dynamic warm-ups for people with joint issues.

What is a Dynamic Warm-Up?

According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), a dynamic warm-up uses force production and momentum to move a joint through the full available range of motion.

Dynamic warm-ups also use the concept of reciprocal inhibition to improve soft tissue extensibility.

In simpler terms, a dynamic warm-up uses exercises that allow your body to improve its range of motion.  For example, a body weight squat and push up can be used to prepare a client’s body for their workout.

Is It OK to Use Dynamic Warm-Ups for Joint Issues?

This is the million-dollar question! The easy answer is yes and no! No, because obviously, there are tons of factors that play into this equation.  These factors include:

  1. Which joint?
  2. Fitness background of client.
  3. Acute or chronic issue.
  4. Doctor’s care or not.
  5. Surgery or not.

Overall, yes, dynamic warm-ups can be done with people with joint issues. So, how do they go about this?

The Tiered Level Protocol

The tiered level protocol is based upon NASM’s first two parts of the Corrective Exercise model. Those parts are:

  1. Inhibit.
  2. Lengthen Static.
  3. Lengthen Active-Isolated.
  4. Lengthen Dynamic.

Inhibit is where you use some sort of trigger point or device such as a foam roller to find overactive or tight muscles that need to be released or relaxed.

Lengthen is where you take that same muscle that you inhibited and improve its range of motion through static, active isolated & dynamic stretching.

So, my suggestion is working with clients who have joint issues is to use this tiered approach to eventually get them to a dynamic warm-up.

For example, if a client has ankle joint issues and their assessment shows an overactive gastrocnemius and soleus, you could do the following warm-up:

  1. Inhibit: calves (use trigger point grid foam roller or lacrosse ball)
  2. Lengthen: calves (static calf walk stretch to an active-isolated calf stretch)
  3. Dynamic Warm-Up (prisoner squats or heel walks)

Here are some of my favorite dynamic warm-up exercises to use. Once again, I do these with my clients only after I’ve done steps 1-3 of the tiered level protocol.

  1. Tube Walking

  2. Dowel Squat with Calf Raise

  3. Most-Fit Core Hammer Stir the Pot
  4. Medicine Ball Rotations
  5. Russian Twist
  6. Push-Up With Rotation
  7. Flyte Fitness Core Flytes Side Lunge
  8. Stroops Agility Drills


Dynamic warm-ups have been popular and are here to stay. Not only can they be done for the healthy population, but, they can also be done with those clients that have joint issues. I recommend you use the tiered level protocol that I described earlier. Have fun with it and be creative, yet safe!

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Maurice Williams

About the author: Maurice Williams

Maurice Williams offers a rare combination of advanced academic training, personal experience as a competitive athlete, and twenty years of experience in personal fitness and training. That combination –- a strong understanding of exercise and sport science and clinical exercise physiology, the determination of a competitive athlete, and broad fitness experience –- makes Maurice uniquely effective in helping his clients meet their health and fitness goals. He has a BS in Exercise/Sport Science from Elon University and an MS in Clinical Exercise Physiology from Ohio University.

Experience that makes a difference for you
Recognized as a Master Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) and an Elite Personal Fitness Trainer by IDEA, Maurice can help you no matter what your age, condition, or fitness goals. He works with women between the ages of 35-50 who are looking to regain the energy and look that they had in their 20’s and 30’s so they will not be frustrated and upset with themselves when they look in the mirror. He also is certified as a Personal Fitness Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Performance Enhancement Specialist, Senior Fitness Specialist, Weight Loss Specialist & Fitness Nutrition Specialist by NASM, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), a Barefoot Training Specialist-Level 1 through EBFA, a Fitness Nutrition Coach-Level 1 through Precision Nutrition and a Master Instructor for NASM & Most-Fit. As a fitness educator with his own education company, Move Well Fit Academy, Maurice teaches the Certified Personal Trainer course through NASM.

Smart Training that Produces Results
Maurice exercises his clients through the concept of functional training – focusing on everyday body movements, not muscles, in a progressive fashion to allow for optimal improvements in everyday activities, such as walking and lifting, as well as helping contribute to weight loss, increased stamina and strength. Maurice has helped people match exercise to their specific health challenges, too, including diabetes, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, lower back pain, pulmonary issues, and pregnancy. His personal training studio, Move Well Fitness, specializes in 30-minute, semi-private (3-5 people) personal group training sessions that action packed with results driven programs. 

The Right Values
Maurice believes “Everyone has fitness is them, the challenge is bringing the fitness out.” His current workout includes resistance training, cardio and yoga. A former high school and collegiate athlete, Maurice grew up in South Carolina with roots that reach back to Brooklyn, NY. An avid sports fan, he still roots for Elon and his favorites, the Miami Hurricanes and the UNC Tarheels. A leader in his church, husband with a beautiful wife (just ask him) and father of four children, Maurice brings the right values to his work and his clients – a shared commitment to good health and fitness, an honest determination, and an understanding of what it takes to meet difficult challenges.

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