The latest student post comes to us from Nick Duke in our Athletic Training Education Program. He wrote the post, designed the warm-up, and provided the voice work on the video. Thank you also to Nathan Perry for his help demonstrating the exercises in the video.
You roll out of bed in the morning to go for your run. You get up from your desk to go play basketball at lunch time. With every movement, you feel your body crackle and pop and everyday there seems to be a new pain or a new sound as you move. You know you didn’t feel this way 10 years ago. Do you remember showing up to an event and just playing? Warm up is for the weak. Well, not anymore. A good warm up can be your best friend and a good way to keep you off the doctor table.
So what do we mean by a good warm up. Well, the goal of the warm up is to increase heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood flow to the muscles. You are getting the body prepared for activity. Increasing the muscle temperature allows the body to contract faster and at a higher intensity. A proper warm up is also important in preventing acute muscle injury. In deciding how to warm up, the type of exercise, length of exercise, previous injuries, age, and general fitness level all need to be taken into consideration.
There are essentially 2 types of warm up, dynamic and static. The dynamic warm up can be broken down into two different categories, a general warm up and a specific warm up. The goal of a general warm up is to prepare the entire body for physical activity while a specific warm up uses sport specific movements. The specific warm up needs to be similar to the coordination pattern and movements of the sport. For example, a proper warm up before playing basketball would be 5 minutes on a bike or a light jog for a general warm up. For the specific warm up performing high knees, butt kick/quad walk, karaoke, side lunge, lunge twist and defensive shuffle could all be done to half court. The warm up should progress from low intensity to a higher intensity. A runner would do a light jog for 5 minutes before doing high knees and butt kicks to loosen up the hips. You might follow up that with high kicks and grouchos to loosen up the hamstring followed lastly by side lunges for the groin.
Static stretching does not necessarily warm the body up for exercise but is important to maintain flexibility and prevent long term injuries. Some studies have shown that static stretching done pre-exercise can decrease power output. This does not mean that it should be ignored. The best time to static stretch is after the general dynamic warm up immediately before the specific dynamic warm up and also post activity before the muscles cool down and tighten. Care should be taken to not excessively stretch where increased flexibility is not desired. This way proper flexibility can be maintained while decreasing the impact that it will have on performance.
Lastly a somewhat new and popular tool is the foam roller. This is commonly used as a self massaging tool. You can use it to stretch before activity and after activity to massage and “flush” out the muscles. It is great for working on trigger pints and other “tight” areas. It can be painful, but the results are wonderful and you will feel much better the next day.
Video of a basic, dynamic warm-up.