Does your warm-up prepare you for optimal physical and mental performance? Yes, I really think your warm up should get your head in the game too!
Sports science has come a long way and suggests there are a few key things to consider to prepare both the body and the mind for competition. Your warm-up should aim to reduce risk of injury, optimise muscle flexibility, joint mobility and muscle patterning by using dynamic movements that are relevant to the sport.
Here are 5 components to think about so you can improve your warm-up:
Dynamics for flexibility and mobility – dynamic movements through full range will improve your mobility and flexibility. If you do these with good technique, you can achieve good muscle patterning as well. These include leg swings, lunges, scorpions, A-skips, kariokes / crossovers, and arm /shoulder mobility drills.
Less statics – We already knew static stretching doesn’t reduce your risk of injury. But did you know recent research suggests static stretches and foam rolling may reduce power output for 30-60mins afterwards? Experts aren’t sure how short or long to hold them for without compromising on power output. If you’re a fan of static stretches and foam rolling, from experience, I think it's best to keep it under 15secs per hold, and try to do them earlier in the warm-up rather than just before the game.
Both fast and slow – does your competition involve both fast and slow speeds? You should do both in your warm-up. Don’t "save your sprints" for the game – if you're doing this, you're not prepared. Even gradually building to 1 sprint in the warm up will help your body and mind better prepare for competition.
Acceleration and deceleration – does your competition have acceleration and deceleration? Most sports do, and so your warm-up needs to include this too. This is not about your top speed, rather how efficiently you can get from zero (0) to 90-100%. Sharp drops in speed are crucial, as are change of direction drills– both of which are a common source of injury.
An Example: Start with some statics and foam rolling exercises to:
- optimise joint mobility and muscle flexibility.
Then continue into a short, simple jog and dynamic movements to:
- elevate your body’s heart rate and core operating temperature,
- optimise joint and muscle viscosity,
- optimise tendon and soft tissue elasticity
Then increasing load, speed, and sports specific drills are ideal to:
- Improve motor pathways and recruit the correct muscles for your sport
- Improve reaction time, and more practically, reactive agility
- Improve post-activation potentiation to enhance power output and performance
- Provide adequate exposure to various physical (and perhaps mental) demands of the game – speed, agility, landing, follow-throughs, catching, tackling, etc.
Keep it relevant! Don’t warm-up with fast lower limb movements such as plyometrics if you’re playing golf. Instead, you may find hip mobility warm-ups help more.
To view the infographic summary on Warm-up & Performance, visit our Facebook Page.