When I ask my patients at our Oakville Physio, massage and foot care clinic what their warm-up routine is prior to their sport, they often say:
1. That they either show up late and DON’T warm-up… or 2. Perform a few static stretches and a light jog.
Not warming-up prior to a sport, especially as we get older, can lead to injury. A good warm-up will gradually increase your heart rate, improve blood circulation and prepare your muscles for quick movements that are required for sports. When a sport requires agility, coordination and explosive movements, you need your muscles to react quickly, and therefore a warm-up should include dynamic stretches and exercises to prepare your body for these movements.
While static stretches are important to incorporate into your overall fitness routine, they should be done at the appropriate time. Recent research is showing that static stretches are best performed at the end of a work out to reduce muscle soreness and improve muscle flexibility.
A dynamic warm-up is based around functional, sport specific movements. These movements are progressed gradually through increased speed and amplitude resulting in elevated muscle and core body temperature and active elongation of the muscles.
Some examples of a dynamic warm-up specific to soccer may include:
- Jog slowly in a straight line for 5-10 minutes to gradually elevate the heart rate and increase circulation.
- Progress to side shuffle, high knee jog, heel to buttocks jog and walking lunges. Gradually increase intensity and speed throughout these movements.
- Bounding – The player jogs, then takes slightly longer steps, looking to exaggerate the stride length. The focus is not on how high the jump is, but on the length of each step.
- Angled Shuffles – This is to replicate defending. The player shuffles at an angle as if defending; then quickly the player moves the other way, as to replicate quick change of direction during play.
- Grapevine – This is a quick footwook exercise. While moving sideways, the trail foot crosses in front of the lead foot. The lead foot then moves ahead of the trail foot. The trail foot then crosses behind the lead foot in a grapevine pattern.
- Finish the warm up with a few quick sprints and then incorporate some dynamic passing and shooting drills before the game starts.
These warm-up drills can be easily adapted to other activities by incorporating sport specific movements into the warm-up. Palermo Physiotherapy and Wellness Centre in Oakville can help tailor a specific warm-up to your sport as an individual or team to help prevent injury. Whether you are competing at a high level or playing a game of pick-up it is important to warm-up properly to help prevent injury.
~Oakville Physiotherapist Claire Corbett ~
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