Warming up can improve your level of performance before training or competition. Research suggests that the use of dynamic stretches, slow controlled movements through the full range of motion are the most appropriate exercises for the warm-up. A proper warm-up increases the blood flow to the working muscle, decreases muscle stiffness, reduces the risk of injury and improves performance.

1. Progression is Key

When you start your warm-up, you want to ease into it and then speed it up. To limit the chance of injuries, you shouldn’t begin your warm-up with an all out burst. Let the body slow movements that progress in difficulty and intensity. This will allow your core body temperature to increase and ensures that you’re not heightening your chances of getting hurt.

2. Get Your Body Moving

I’m sure all of you have bent over and touched your toes or done a shoulder stretch across your chest. If you still do that, this is not enough. Studies have suggested that too much static stretching can be detrimental for serious athletes. Multiple studies show that static stretching ahead of training can actually diminish strength. Although a thorough, static stretching can aid recovery and be done safely after a workout, remember warming-up is the goal of warm-up, not rest! A perfect way to do that is to move. For example; jumping jacks, boxing leg swings, squats and for (the COR boot campers, their favorite mountain climbers exercise).

3. Get Your Mobility In

Self myofascial release (SMR) is a great tool before a workout. The goal for SMR is to help the tissue move through a full range of motion in order to decrease the chance of injury and create the most force possible.Active trigger points are painful to touch, non-active trigger points still decrease force production and alter movement.Trigger points can decrease or change the motion of a joint can lead to fatigue, chronic pain and injury and less efficient motor skill performance. Foam rollers and tennis balls are simple tools that, when used correctly, will change your training forever by loosening tight muscles and increasing blood flow.

4. Get Your Nervous System Going

Your nervous system is in control of your body. When you prepare it for activity, the more efficient it can be during your training session. You want to increase your performance, make it a priority to excite the nervous system during your warm-up. This can be achieved with moves that require greater coordination such as plyometric exercises. Of course, after you have progressed through your warm up, when your body is ready to go.

Now that you know how to prep for your workout, you should prepare your mind for how long it will take. Warm ups can take up to 10-20 minutes, depending on your body. This may feel like a workout by itself but it can prevent the chances of injuries. Proper warm-ups can help you generate more force and train harder for longer.

Reference:

1. Mcnair, P.J. et al. (2000) Stretching at the ankle joint: viscoelastic responses to holds and continuous passive motion. Medicine & Science in Sport and Exercise, 33 (3), p. 354-358.

Written by Chris Barber, CPT