Why do we need to warm up before competition time?
Warm-ups have been a part of the sports world for a long time because it helps athletes to prepare physically, mentally, prevent injuries, and enhance performance. It wakes up the body’s communication system between the nervous system and muscular system to ready the body for activity and gets the athlete on the road to success. The science of warm-ups has changed over the years, and involves using all the movement systems in sports, rather than slow, long hold stretches (which have been shown to decrease performance).
Warm-ups should last from between 5 to 20 minutes long to be able to engage all the muscles needed for the sport. The focus of a good warm-up is to gradually increase muscle temperature, increase blood flow, along with increasing joint mobility, and decreasing stiffness or soreness. Exercises should progress in intensity and then speed of movement.
The positive effects warm-up can have included:
– Faster muscle contraction and relaxation
– Increased activation of explosive strength
– Improve reaction time.
– Improves muscle power production
– Less muscles stiffness, better mobility
– Improved oxygen delivery to muscles
– Increased blood flow to active muscles
– Enhanced hormones/chemical reaction.
How do we do it?
Warm-up should start with very easy jogging or vigorous walking, with a pronounced arm swing to increase the heart rate and activate the muscles. A method called ‘RAMP’ was created for an athlete to follow to help get them fully prepared in the following order:
- Raise: The ability to raise body temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood flow, and joint lubrication. Should be a duration of 5 minute of activities such as:
– Jogging or brisk walking
– Grapevine (karaoke)
These activities must be done with some intensity as the goal is to increase heart rate and body temperature.
- Activate and Mobilize: Focus on activating certain muscle groups and mobilize a certain range of motion of specific joints for no more than five minutes. This could include:
These exercises are performed to stretch the joints involved to their maximum range of motion, but in a dynamic fashion and not a prolonged hold.
- Potentiate or Performance: To encourage and motivate athletes in order to arouse them to reach their highest performance ability in reaction time (speed). This component should be no less than 5 minutes and no more than 10 minutes of activities like:
– Short sprints (50%, 75%, 100% effort)
These exercises are often sport specific to help improve the performance required.
To learn about the method of ‘RAMP’ visit Warm-Ups – Science for Sport
To find out more about some generic exercises that could be incorporated in warm-ups check out 15 Warm Up Exercises & 3 Dynamic Routines to Prevent Injury | Nerd Fitness. This site also includes video representation of some activities suggested above.
If the athlete or team gets in the habit of warming up effectively before each practice and game, not only will the risk of injury be decreased, but the level of performance and “readiness” to participate will improve.