Shouldn’t a two-minute jog around the block, some arm swings, and a hamstring stretch suffice? No way! A good warm-up can help you get the most out of your workout, training session, practice, or game. A well-thought-out warm-up will not only reduce your risk of injury but will also allow you to perform better in whatever sport in which you are competing.
How Does It Work?
Warming up begins with a physical increase in your body’s core temperature. Your body will identify the rise in temperature, and then your heart will pump extra blood to the muscles engaged as a result. A higher blood concentration in the muscles indicates that your muscles are receiving more oxygen. Increased oxygen means more energy, which means those muscles can contract and relax faster and stronger than before. At the same time, this extra energy stimulates the central nervous system, resulting in far more effective muscle activation.
1. Raise Your Core Temperature.
In general, a proper warm-up will begin with a series of drills designed to raise body temperature. Because we are just starting to enhance neuronal activity, these should have a lower impact and put less strain on the neurological system. Jumping jacks, jogging, skipping, fast steps, and high knees are some examples.
2. Adaptive Mobility
Once the heart rate has increased, and the muscles have warmed up, the next phase is to work on mobility while maintaining a high core temperature. This is where we’d use a more dynamic stretching technique. Muscle fibers will be able to lengthen, and joints will move through their entire range of motion. Walking toe touches, quad stretch with reach, straight leg kick, lunges, and spiderman with rotation are excellent examples. Performing each of these exercises for a few minutes, with a jog in between, is one suitable method.
3. Activation of Muscles
After then, there is a muscle activation period. This is where we would customize the warm-up to the athlete’s individual needs, such as general weaknesses or previous injury rehabilitation. It’s also crucial to think about the demands of the next workout and include targeted activation of the muscles that will be used the most. I prefer to include a lot of scapular and rotator cuff activation, such as prone I/Y/T, swimmers, and banded external rotation, if the upper body is included. If the lower body is involved, this phase would include fire hydrants, hip circles, monster walks, and glute bridges, as well as a lot of posterior chain and lateral hip exercises.
The final phase in the warm-up procedure is to prepare the body for the following training session’s specific demands. It should be the most strenuous part of the warm-up, including drills that are directly related to the activity or workout. This will help to stimulate the neuromuscular system as a whole, allowing it to perform at its best while reducing the chance of injury. If the session includes sprinting, for example, a sequence of sprint-specific drills such as pogo hops, wall drives, and quick and straight leg shuffle/bound should be used. The exact exercises should be included in any strength training or interval training workout, but at a lower resistance and volume. Finally, if you’re getting ready for a sport like football, soccer, or basketball, this phase can include extra plyometrics, reaction drills, and change-of-direction practice.