By Lauren Dobson
How do you warm-up for your sport?
How many of you are training through an injury/muscle tightness?
Do you realise that by changing your warm-up routine, you could prevent injuries and reduce muscle soreness?
So GET LOOSE and warm-up properly.
Understanding the warm-up is a vitally important first step for any athlete no matter what the sport. The aims of the warm-up are to prepare the participants to perform efficiently and effectively and to reduce the risk of injury.
The style of the warm-up for training is different to preparation and warm-up before a game, match or event. Before a competitive event, it will always be influenced by the the type of sport, the duration of any game and individuals’ preferences.
Any warm-up should ideally last between 10 to 20 minutes, at a minimum, depending on the activity to follow. And it must be versatile enough and adapt to the requirements of a competitive match or training session.
It should start off with low intensity and a gradual progression through a series of movements from a simple level to a more specific and higher-intensity programme. The idea is to prepare muscles and joints to move at the appropriate speed and with the range of motion that is required by the activity that follows.
The key benefits of warming up before any activity are:
- Increase the temperature of the body, allowing the muscle to have more elasticity and helping the movement become more efficient
- Stimulate the heart and lungs so that the pulse and breathing is increased
- Activate the relevant muscle groups
- Increase reaction speed by stimulating the nervous system
- Improve co-ordination
- Mentally prepare the athletes
In our opinion at Function Jigsaw, there are three vital phases of any warm-up.
- Foam rolling and trigger ball release
- Dynamic stretching
- Muscle activation
Active rolling/foam rolling is used as a self-massage tool. It is mainly used to roll through tight and restrictive tissue to help increase range of motion, improve blood circulation, relax muscle groups, and improve muscle recovery.
I once read that foam rolling ‘rolls out the wrinkles in your rumpled musculature’.
There are a number of different styles of rollers which cater for different levels of firmness, size/width/length and compressive technique etc. Function Jigsaw have created a foam roller which uses the ‘helix profile’ to maintain active motion rather than a compressive action. We call it the Active Roller.
The Active Trigger Ball is also used as a self-massage tool. The size of a hockey ball, it is used to help loosen tight and restrictive muscle and fascia but with a slightly more aggressive approach and with a more specific compression which targets a single muscle group or localised area. It’s perfect for the upper traps or gluets. Both the Active Roller and the Active Trigger Ball work very well in conjunction with each other.
Most people can be taught to foam roll correctly by a trainer, coach or therapist. Or check out our website for instruction videos soon. I have just hosted an evening at RaceHub in Leicestershire where I taught keen users how to get the full benefit from their Active Kit.
‘Dynamic stretching’ is when the body is continuously moving, even while stretching. Stretching dynamically can help increase/maintain your muscles’ core temperature, improve range of motion and prepare muscles and joints for activity more specifically than static stretching.
Having a variety of dynamic stretches in your warm up, including upper and lower limb stretches, will prepare your body physically and mentally for your performance.
To learn a variety of different dynamic stretches you can gain good techniques by coaching yourself, help from a trainer, coach or therapist. There are even some good techniques and stretches to learn from YouTube. Be careful not to over-stretch yourself and if any re-occurring pain is experienced, don’t hesitate to seek advice from the professionals.
‘Muscle activation’ is used to enhance the communication between neurology and your muscles. To ‘switch the correct muscles on so that they fire optimally when you need them to’.
Activating your neuromuscular response allows you to gain maximum effectiveness of your activity and most importantly, help reduce overuse of muscle groups and reduce the risk of injury. It is proven that activation enhances movement and sequence patterns and prepares the body for increased forces such as acceleration and deceleration as well as much more neurological and physical advantages.
The main muscles to activate will be the gluets, core, adductors, abductors, hip flexors, posterior shoulder and upper thoracic spine – but which ones of combinations will be distinguished by the activity to follow.
We believe that a combination of these before any exercise will keep your injury rate at a low, help with joint mobility, improve blood circulation, prepare muscle coordination, progress performance and actually have a positive ‘feel good’ factor at the end in preparation for your activity.
So what’s stopping you trying it out?