It blows my mind, but I frequently hear about young teams and athletes who do not warm up properly or do not even warm up in the first place. Or I’ll see a warm-up in which static stretching is being performed before a game. Long gone are the days of reaching down to try to touch your toes and holding for 15-20 seconds and repeating the same protocol for other muscle groups. This type of warm-up can be detrimental to an athlete’s performance!
A 2014 study in the National Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research showed that static stretching reduced explosive strength and performance for up to 24 hours after the stretching was performed. However, with the group that performed dynamic stretching, the positive effects of the warm-up actually lasted for up to 24 hours. The disclaimer here is that static stretching is not always bad and it may have a place, just that there are better and more efficient ways to prep you for your workout, practice, or game/event.
Your warm-up can make or break your athletic performance and it is paramount for athletes to be warming up properly, effectively, and efficiently. So what constitutes a good dynamic warm-up? A good dynamic warm-up has four phases – Inhibition, Lengthening, Activation, and Integration. This can be done through a combination of self-myofascial release, dynamic stretching/movements, activation exercises, and finally sport specific movements.
When I was training for some NFL Regional Combines in 2014 and 2015, I learned a lot about how to warm-up properly and it made a world of difference in my performance on the field. A good warm-up should get your muscles loose, your glutes fired up, and your body primed for peak performance. This is something all athletes should be incorporating before practices, games, and workouts. Not only does it get you ready to play at a high level, it helps to reinforce proper movement patterns as well. But perhaps most importantly, a good dynamic warm-up can help reduce injury risk significantly.