Warming up can improve performance and reduce injury. Understanding the benefits of the warm-up and using appropriate procedures help you to maximize your performance.
The warm-up produces an elevation of body temperature that produces:
- Enhanced oxygen delivery to muscle tissues
- Enhanced chemical reactions that improve energy production and reduce fatigue
- Improved muscle blood flow and relaxation
- Increased sensitivity of nerve receptors
- Enhanced ability of muscles and ligaments to absorb forces
- Improved psychological preparation
Effective warm-up allows you to gradually prepare for maximum effort and should include:
- General warm-up
- Specific warm-up
- Psychological preparation
Activities such as jogging, calisthenics, rope jumping or stationary bicycling induce sweating without fatigue. The general warm-up increases body temperature, which reduces muscle viscosity, enhances enzymatic activity to improve muscle contraction and neurologically relaxes muscles.
Assume the stretching position. Gradually increase the force of the stretch to continue to produce a stretching sensation without pain. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Relax for 5 seconds. Repeat the process 3 to 5 times. Stretching improves flexibility, increases relaxation of the muscles and improves the muscle’s ability to withstand the forces involved in intense exercise.
Gradual increase in the intensity of exercise that duplicates the movement involved with your sport adds to the benefits of the general warm-up. This also provides a “rehearsal” of the skills involved in your sport.
The pre-event time can be anxiety producing. Excessive anxiety can be detrimental to performance. The warm-up can be an effective procedure to control anxiety of competition and provide optimal psychological preparation for an event.
Amount, Intensity, Duration
The warm-up should be customized to the physical capabilities of the athlete and the intensity of the activity. A brief warm-up of 10 minutes of jogging and stretching would adequately prepare the “weekend athlete” for a run. Conversely, an elite athlete’s preparation for a run might include 10 to 15 minutes of jogging, 5 to 10 minutes of stretching, 5 to 10 minutes of running with gradual increase to race pace and 5 to 10 minutes of jogging.
A specific warm-up should be included for each activity you participate in. Experiment with various warm-ups to determine the amount, intensity and duration that will provide maximal preparation without fatigue.
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