One question comes to mind: Do you warm up before you go for a swim, a run or for a bike ride? We have all been culprits of not doing so. I myself have ignored the importance of a warm up in the past. But, as the years went by and the degree in human kinetics came in with a combination of seminars, the warm up could no longer be ignored.
What do you do before your workout? Do you do something? How long does it take you to prepare before you go on your training journey? Everyone has their own routines that work for them. Could it be better?
Traditionally, a warm up includes some sort of low intensity aerobic activity, static stretching and general skills rehearsals. The goal is to heat up the body, increase flexibility with the static stretching and get ready to go by doing some general movement drills.
Sounds good right? Can it be better than this? It totally can! If we revise the traditional warm up, there are good and neutral/ineffective things related to it. General light aerobic activity is good, it heats the body, which makes your muscles malleable and ready to work. The issue with static stretching is that under thirty seconds it has a neutral effect on performance and over one minute, it negatively affects strength and power. The interesting part is that it does not reduce injury risks. Static stretching does have its positive effect…in recovery phases. General skills rehearsals are good to get you ready for your workout.
What can we change about the warm up to get it better? Let’s call it movement preparation! Think of movement preparation as a funnel with the light aerobic section of it to heat up the body as being at the top of the funnel. Secondly, lower into the funnel, we can include some hip activation. With the help of mini bands (elastic) over our knees, we can activate our hip muscles (not get them tired) in order to create stability for our dynamic stretching phase. Dynamic stretching is all about waking up the muscles and getting your body ready to move in its optimal range of motion. It replaces static stretching. Integration of movement is key to our routine where it is important to consider direction and levels of difficulty of the movement. Is it linear or is it lateral movement? Does it involve marching or skipping? Lastly, neural activation, at the end of the funnel is like flipping the switch. Your body becomes “wired” and ready to go. It’s not about getting tired but about facilitating the movement. Skipping can progress to running. Keeping it short and fast is key.
Depending on how hard and long is the workout; the length of your movement preparation routine may vary. A hard workout will require more time (up to an hour) to prepare than an easy workout (minimum 10 minutes).
There are a lot of drills that can be included in your movement preparation. What is important is that you find a routine that works for you and that you commit to it. If something is not working, don’t be afraid to change the pattern. Just don’t do it on race day. Something new on race day is never a good idea.
Feel free to leave a comment or contact me via www.continuumfitness.ca if you have any questions related to training.