How To Warm Up!
I previously wrote an article about warming up and stretching before playing basketball or cheerleading that I would like to address. The name of the article was Warming Up To Prevent Injuries. (This link will take you to the other page and you can hit back to return to this article.) Knowing that warming up is very important I decided to do a bit more research on it and I want to share with you what I found. I stated that “Warming up and stretching properly are two of the most important and most often overlooked preventative measures you can take.” And I still fully believe this; however, my thoughts on how and when to do these things have certainly changed.
There are several types of warm-ups. A general warm-up is light physical activity that slowly increases the heart and respiratory rate and increases muscle temperature. A static warm-up stretches a muscle or group of muscles in a specific area and then relaxes them but does not put them through a full range of motion. It lengthens the muscle allowing for greater flexibility. A dynamic warm-up is when an athlete does more intense exercises that bring the body and muscle temperature at an appropriate level. A sports specific warm-up engages the muscles in movements that will be used during the game and helps keep the body in the same physical state it will be in when participating.
There will never be an agreement on which type of warm-up is the best as new research is always ongoing but I want to give you some of the ideas out there and let you decide what is best. Below I will cover the types of warm-ups and some exercise involved in each one.
As I read different points of view from different people I became a bit confused at first until I started looking for what was not mentioned. One viewpoint was that dynamic warm-ups were the best in preparing for an activity. Another stressed the importance of stretching and general warm-ups. Another stressed the importance of both. I personally did not find one that I agree with a hundred percent but here is what I came up with for you to consider.
It is very important to start off with a general warm-up. The athlete comes into the gym basically in a passive physical mode, having either ridden a bus to the game or from home or some other place where physical activity was at a minimum. So starting with this type of warm-up to get the temperature and heart and respiratory rate going up will help lubricate the joints and get oxygen, blood and warmth to the muscles, which is essential for the next step. I seriously doubt that stretching cold muscles is a good idea. Some exercise that can fall into this category are skipping, jogging forwards and backwards, and even jumping rope. These activities should aerobically get you going.
The next step should be to do a stretching warm-up routine. Try to involve as many muscles and muscle groups as possible to help lengthen and loosen them. I would try to do some stretches that involve as many muscles at once as possible so that this step can be kept short. Some of these exercises are the triceps stretch, shoulder and wrist stretches, quadriceps and hamstring stretches, and don’t forget to stretch those calf muscles. Try incorporating some different types of stretches to keep your momentum going. Move through these quickly, going from one right into the next and preferably going from one that has you standing to one sitting and back to one standing and so on so that you are still in a constant range of motion and keeping the heart rate and body temperature elevated. But do not do the stretches themselves too quickly or you could injure the muscles rather than help them.
Now you should move into the dynamic warm-up stage. This will bring the body closer to an actual game ready physical state. Now is the time when you want to go through more intense exercises. This could involve shuffling (be sure to swing the arms and change directions regularly), high knee skips, running high knees, the Frankenstein March, walking lunges, over the fence, inchworms (this looks funny but it is a great exercise), and more.
And last but not least, move into the sports specific warm-up and keep it up until the game begins. Now is the time to run your full speed drills to practice before the game. If you are playing defense, play it like you are in the game and the same goes for offense. This is the time to bring your body into full game mode and be sure to do some chants and pump up mentally during this time to get the team ready emotionally and mentally.
There are some links below that will take you to more information on what some of these exercise are and a bit more about what the warm-up experts are saying. Be sure to warm-up and stay healthy so that you can enjoy basketball for a long time.
See you on the court!