A warm-up is usually performed before participating in technical sports or exercising. A warm-up generally consists of a gradual increase in intensity in physical activity (pulse raiser), a joint mobility exercise, stretching and a sport related activity. For example, before running or playing an intense sport one might slowly jog to warm muscles and increase heart rate. It is important that warm ups should be specific to the exercise that will follow, which means that exercises (of warm up) should prepare the muscles to be used and to activate the energy systems that are required for that particular activity. The risks and benefits of combining stretching with warming up are mixed and in some cases disputed. Warming up prepares the body mentally & physically.
A warm-up will improve the effectiveness of training and should be done before every training session. This is fundamental to a safe practice.
- Direct physical effects:
- Release of adrenaline
- Increase of temperature in the muscles
- Decreased viscosity of blood
- Enables oxygen in the blood to travel with greater speed
- Facilitates enzyme activity
- Encourages the dissociation of oxygen from haemoglobin
- Decreased viscosity within the muscle
- Decreased viscosity of blood
- Increase of muscle metabolism
- Supply of energy through breakdown of glycogen
- Increase in speed of nerve impulse conduction.
Why athletes warm up
Athletes not only warm up to physically prepare their bodies for training or competition but also to mentally warm themselves up. Warm ups are a crucial part of performance. If completed correctly they enable the body to perform at its peak performing ability at the current time. There are three different types of warm ups; gradual increase of physical activity to raise the pulse (Eg. cycling), a joint mobility exercise, stretching and a sport related activity (Eg. dribbling for basketball). A warm up should be specific to the task required to perform in order to activate the correct energy systems and prepare the correct muscles. There are many beneficial effects from warm ups including; • Increased heart rate. This enables oxygen in the blood to travel faster meaning the muscles fatigue slower, also, the synovial fluid between the joints is produced more to reduce friction in the joints, the capillaries dilate and it lets more oxygen travel in the blood. • Higher temperature in the muscles. This decreases the thickness of the blood-letting the oxygen travel to different parts of the body quicker, it also decreases the viscosity within the muscle, removes lactic acid, lets the muscles fibres have greater extensibility and elasticity and an increase in force and contraction of muscles.
Types of warm-up
- Ballistic Stretches: Ballistic Stretches (involving bouncing or jerking) are purported to help extend limbs more during exercise to allow an individual to be more agile and flexible. However this type of stretching can cause injury and is not generally recommended.
- Static Stretches: Flexing the muscles to help prevent injury and allow greater flexibility and agility. Note that some sources discourage static stretching as muscles are more prone to damage if stretched while cold.
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