This article was provided by Training-Conditioning
By Peter Twist
Having athletes go through a dynamic warmup is a good first step toward injury prevention and performance optimization. Here, Peter Twist, MS, BPE, CSCS, President of Twist Conditioning, describes the importance of a dynamic warmup and provides sample exercises to achieve pre-game and pre-practice neuromuscular activation.
Warm Up Purposefully
A dynamic sport requires an athlete begin the game or training session ready to play and immediately meet the demands of the sport at maximum intensity. The warmup must optimize performance and lower the chance of injury through increased muscle temperature, muscle compliance, and physiological response efficiency.
Functionally, an increase in muscle temperature decreases the viscous resistance of muscles, combined with an increase in oxygen delivery to the muscles, improved central nervous system function, and faster transmission of nervous impulses. Stimulating muscle compliance mechanisms activates the command from the mind telling the rest of the body to perform quickly and efficiently. The warmup drives physiological and neuromuscular systems to create compliance between the mind and muscles.
Move Like a Statue
A warm-up run or linear aerobic work raises the core temperature and promotes oxygen delivery to muscles, but when followed up with static stretching, the benefits of the initial warmup are wasted. Research related to the physiological effectiveness of static stretching have reported decreases in the force producing capabilities of a muscle following a bout of static stretching. Decreased motor unit activation, firing frequency, and altered reflex sensitivity have been proposed to explain the stretching-induced decreases in force production. Ultimately, static stretching in the warmup slows nervous system activity, elongates muscles fibers, and allows the body to cool off, leaving the athlete ill prepared to jump into dynamic activity.
Demands of Sport
Sport requires us to move in multiple directions with the aim of creating space to get open for a pass or to take away space from an opposing player. To be successful these movements must occur at varying speeds, and through various ranges of motion all while appropriately reacting and responding to elements of unpredictability in their environment. No matter how many systems and structured plays are put in place by the coaching staff, the flow of the game is truly unpredictable. Luckily we can train and prepare the body to best respond as soon as the game commences by implementing a dynamic warmup.
The body is always in a state of learning, memorizing, and recalling. During the practice of a skill your body is lying down motor engrams that it will later recall in order to carry out a specific skill such as kicking a soccer ball. The success of the kick is directly related to how well it was taught and practiced by the athlete. As part of this learning process the body goes through the three phases of motor learning (cognitive, associative, and automatic) with the end goal of recalling and performing the skill quickly and successfully with very little cognition and optimal mechanics. Firing up sport specific motor patterns in the dynamic warm up activates the neuromuscular pathways, refreshes the pattern, and helps athletes be game ready.
Building a Dynamic Warmup
Time Allocation: Plan to dedicate 10 to15 minutes to your warmup. By the end of the warmup session athletes should be fired up and their nervous systems activated, but not to the point of fatigue.
Number of Exercises: 10 to 15
Sets and Repetitions: Perform one set of 10 to 12 reps of each exercise making sure to work both sides of a movement.
Exercise Selection: Look at the demands of the sport.
• Incorporate fundamental movements found in the sport into the warm up (lateral shuffle, 45-degree open steps/lunges, etc…). Take a multidirectional approach.
• What is the tempo and speed of the movements involved? Is it a sport that involves one continual pace, or does it have multiple changes of direction?
• Incorporate deceleration. The ability to stop quickly or decelerate is fundamental to changing directions and reducing the incidence of injury.
Be Progressive: Gradually increase in Range of Motion (ROM) and tempo. Also consider the neural complexity (performance difficulty) involved in the movement.
Perfect Practice for Perfect Performance: The dynamic warm up is the ideal time to develop and refine movement skills and teach athletes movement precision to solidify the mechanics needed for sport success.
Sample Game-Ready Dynamic Warmup Exercises:
Cool walk to toes
Crane toe touch
Cross over lunges
Lunge with upper body rotation
Lateral bound and stick
Lateral bound with coupling
Change the Way Athletes Train
Our mandate at Twist Conditioning is to change the way all athletes train to improve performance, reduce injury, and promote long and prosperous sport careers that transition into passionate recreation pursuits. The Twist training style builds Smart Muscle™ (the mind commands, the muscles comply) to give them a competitive edge.
Peter Twist, MSc BPE CSCS TSCC-Gold PTS is President of Twist Conditioning’s 3 divisions: franchised Sport Conditioning Centers, product wholesale, and the Twist Smart Muscle™ Coach Education program. To learn more about the Twist training methodologies, education, and equipment available in the USA, contact www.twistconditioning.com.