If you’re guilty of running laps as a warm-up please stand up!
Stop jogging laps immediately. ESPECIALLY if you plan on staying injury free during practice or a game. A proper warm up is vital to your performance. Whether you are pounding weights in the gym, working on skills, or preparing your body before the big game, warming up will only benefit you. A GOOD warmup mitigates injury. Your muscles, joints, ligaments and even eyes should be stretched and contracted more similarly to how you will be performing.
By more closely simulating game movements prior, your body will be in the optimal state to perform at your best and decrease your risk for injury.
So what does constitute a proper warm-up?
STOP Jogging Laps
Purpose: Used as a warm up exercise to increase body temperature, preparing muscles and joints for movement and the heart and lunges for activity.
Problem: Sports require multidirectional movements, forward sprinting, backpedaling and shuffling. Jogging laps does not properly prepare a player’s body for the movements they will be experiencing in a training or game.
Substitute: DO A Dynamic Movements
A dynamic warm up can be done over a short distance ranging from 10 – 20 yards. The dynamic warm up can include joint movements, jogging, backpedaling, shuffling, sprinting, jumping; all areas of movement that will be experienced in a training or game. The dynamic warm-up should last between 10 and 15 minutes. Try these two drills:
Side Flow Series
STOP Static Stretching
Purpose: To lengthen the muscles prepare the muscles and joints for strenuous activity.
Problem: The muscles do not hold a static position while playing a sport. Holding the muscles in a static position for a long period of time trains the muscles to respond accordingly, potentially causing injuries to the muscle as well as slowing the athlete’s performance.
Substitute: DO Dynamic Active Stretching. When training for a sport you want to practice movements that mimic your sport. Performing dynamic-active stretches, that only require the muscles to hold a stretch between 1-3 seconds mimics the movements the muscles will be experiencing in a training or game. Performing slower dynamic movements could be a great method of ‘stretching’ 10-15 minutes post training or game to relax the muscles back into a normal state. Pay attention to quality movement here, as this is when injuries happen, when we’re tired and still have to coordinate our muscles. Breathing drills could be a great tool to bring down the nervous system as well.
Try this Dynamic Active Stretch – Hip Hinge | Single-Leg RDL before or after a game
STOP Ballistic Stretching
Purpose: Uses the momentum of a moving body or a limb in an attempt to force it beyond its normal range of motion. This is stretching, or “warming up”, by bouncing into (or out of) a stretched position, using the stretched muscles as a spring which pulls you out of the stretched position.
Problem: Ballistic stretching is generally not recommended for athletes who try to stay in shape or improve flexibility because there is a risk of straining or pulling a muscle. Stretching movements without optimal brain and muscle connection, that are too forceful, can damage the soft tissues around the joints, such as ligaments and tendons and may lead to injury in the game. This needs to be executed perfectly to reap full benefits. Overtime, ballistic stretching can cause tendonitis.
Substitute: Do This Spinal Lengthening Movement. The spinal cord sends signal to your moving limbs and helps calculate how much force it can send out. Mobilize the spinal cord well and watch it increase the communication to all of your peripheral nerve endings (joints), thus, improving range of motion and even muscle contraction. This will help keep you safe and performing better for longer.