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Importance of warming up!

So with the year coming to a close, it is a good time to take a look back over the past 12 months at what you set as your personal goals, fitness goals or maybe even work goals.

  • Did you achieve them?
  • Where they achievable?
  • If not why not?

Now obviously we all come up against challenging times when trying to achieve our resolutions for various reasons! Maybe they were unrealistic, possibly they will take more than 365 days to achieve, possibly you’re shooting for the long-term game plan or maybe just hit an unexpected speed bump which can through you off course. I find with the latter that a lot of the time it is lack of planning or to put good daily habits into place which prevents people succeeding, which is the main speed bump in our good intentions.

I feel every year come the 1st January that we say “I’m going to get fitter or be more active”. We might set ourselves a goal, like a ‘Tough Mudder’ event, 5-10km or half marathon to help focus those efforts. Maybe its just to get lean, keen and beach ready for summer! 😉

Invariably it ends a few weeks or months in, with a persistent niggle or more severe injury, which with a little bit of preparation and planning could have been prevented.

Yes that’s right I’m talking about the dreaded warm up before your tennis game, 5 a side match, rugby, hockey training or going out on a run (my least favourite). Now I bring this up just after seeing Andy Murray storming to SPOTY with 250k votes. I know that it is Andy’s job and in fact, every other athlete’s job who may or may not be on the list.

There are though a few common themes, most vital of those are a proper warm-up and cool-down before and after each session. Though we will leave cooling down for a later post.

So first of we need to get into the habit of doing a warm-up in the first place. This doesn’t need to take a huge amount of time or drain your energy for your activity, but it is more than a few 15-second stretches before taking to the playing field.

At Game Plan Sports (GPS) our athletes go through a specific warm-up routine before every session. Whether our players are at the beginning of their athletic journey at 3-4 years old or later on in their development playing national events, they have their warm up. If you’d like to follow the GPS teams quick & simple warm-up routine then click here and choose from Mini Tennis (Under 10’s), Junior (11+ years old) or the Adult warm – up Program!

So what are the benefits of doing a warm up?

  • Increased speed of contraction and relaxation of warmed muscles.
  • Dynamic exercises reduce muscle stiffness.
  • Greater economy of movement because of lowered viscous resistance within warmed muscles.
  • Easier oxygen utilisation by warmed muscles because haemoglobin releases oxygen more readily at higher muscle temperatures.
  • Facilitated nerve transmission and muscle metabolism at higher temperatures. A specific warm-up can aid motor unit recruitment required in subsequent activity.
  • Increased blood flow through active tissues as local vascular beds dilate, increasing metabolism and muscle temperatures.
  • Allows heart rate to get to a workable rate for beginning exercise
  • Mentally focused on the training or competition.

In our next post, we will go into more depth about these different aspects and how to incorporate them into your warm up.