Most people know they should warm-up before training, and many feel holding a few stretches will help you perform at a higher level and avoid injury. However, scientific evidence doesn't necessarily reinforce these claims due to warm-ups not being specific to the activity, were too short in duration and too vigorous which then deplete energy stores.
Warm-ups can take various forms, and carry their own benefits:-
Active warm-ups: By far the most common, and research states they can improve performance provided the intensity does not cause fatigue and draw excessively on energy stores. There is also benefit to sports-specific movements in reducing the risk of injury.
Passive warm-ups: The use of hot baths or sauna to raise body temperature without causing fatigue, but they do not carry the same benefits as active warm-ups. This modality is useful for maintaining body temperature between races.
Static stretching: Historically a crucial part of a warm-up, but has since been proven to be detrimental to performance and actually increase the risk of injury. Studies show static stretching to be more beneficial after training.
Dynamic stretching: Involves moving the body in ways that mimic your sport or activity, such as walking lunges for runners. It is important the movement is controlled and repeated 10-12 times.
The benefits of performing a comprehensive warm-up include:-
# Increased body temperature, making soft tissues more elastic and less likely to tear
# Blood vessels dilation, allowing more blood flow to be directed to the working muscles for maximal oxygen uptake
# Improved focus and visualisation as your brain engages with your body
# Enhanced joint mobility
# Boosts metabolism to accelerate the supply of energy to your muscles
A good warm-up should leave you warm, slightly sweating and focused on what lay ahead. Over a period of 10-12 minutes, slowly increased the intensity of your routine and try and make it as specific to your activity as possible.