Each and every year we hear about athletes being injured and out for the season. Although there are many different reasons that may cause a player to be injured, today I want to address the lack of a proficient warm up and cool down process before and after a practice or scheduled game.
I travel and view many different sporting events and often find that many young athletes are not taking the time to warm up or cool down in an effective manner. In fact, in some instances I have seen athletes skip this vital step altogether. Trainers and basketball coaches need to stress the importance of a quality warm-up and cool down because it results in an overall better performance as well as it helps speed up recovery so an athlete is ready to perform at their peak. In the next section, I will go more in-depth about what a warm-up vs. a cool-down is and give you a few sample drills to get you on your way to healthier total body pleasing regimen.
The Warm Up
The purpose of a warm-up is to warm your body and muscles. Most people do not realize the importance of this step. It helps adjust your body before it goes into the shock that is working out or participating in a sporting activity. Consider it as checking your bicycle tires before going on a long ride. It will help prevent injuries. It is essential for even young children to become accustomed to starting activities with a good warm up to get their bodies ready to move!
3-5 minutes: When you walk into most gyms you will find a team taking a few laps around the gym to warm-up the body. This is okay – and I use this sometimes with some of my groups – but there are other ways to warm-up the body that will have your team thinking about their activity during the warm-up. I’m a big fan of using jump ropes and having the players go through a jump rope routine, which is a lot more exciting for the athletes then running around in a boring circle. This also works on their foot quickness which is needed in all sports.
- 5 to 10 minutes dynamic stretching exercises. The dynamic drills that you pick should be moves that the athlete will use during their activity. This helps the athlete relate to their warm-up and also warms up the body properly.
- High Knees
- Butt Kicks
These are just a few, but there are thousands of moves that can be done during this time.
- 3-5 minutes of actual drills used in the their specific sport. – This is great preparation for the practice or game.
- D slides
- Roll out’s
Benefits of Warming Up:
- Increases circulation in your body.
- Dynamic exercises reduce muscle stiffness which improves the movement of your limbs.
- Helps you get through your practice or game.
- Increase the elasticity in ones muscles.
- Increased blood flow through active tissues as local vascular beds dilate, increasing metabolism and muscle temperatures.
The cool down is equally as important as it is the process which helps bring an athletes heart rate back to its previous state. It also helps relax the muscles that were being contracted during an intense workout. An adequate cool down is a necessary step to help keep one’s body feeling strong and with better recovery so he/she is ready to continue to train or play.
Warming down should consist of the following:
- 3 to 5minutes a light jog/walking pace. This decreases your body temperature, and removes waste products from your working muscles.
- 5 to 10 minutes static stretching exercises
When is static stretching good?
Static stretches are more appropriate to the cool down as they help muscles to relax and increase their range of movement.
What are the benefits of a cool down?
- Aid in the dissipation of waste products – including lactic acid
- Reduce the potential for DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Muscle soreness that occurs some 24 to 48 hours after intense workouts.
- Reduce the chances of dizziness or fainting caused by the pooling of venous blood at the extremities.