First of all, what is a warm up?
A session, that takes place prior to a planned cardiovascular including light exercise and stretching.
OK, great. But, why do i need to do this?
Warm ups help your body and mind to prepare for what they about to encounter. Therefore, helping to prevent injuries and improving an individuals mental focus for the event ahead.
What should I do then?
The idea is to gradually increase the circulation of your bood throughout your muscles, tendons and ligaments. They should not fatigue you however, so getting the balance is key. So, follow our quick guide below for a simple, yet effective plan of action.
Step 1: Stretching
Loosen up your body and joints by completing some basic stretches. Target the main areas of the body that will be used in your activity, so for footballers focusing on the groin, quadriceps, calf and hamstrings is crucial. Hold each stretch for approximately 8-10 seconds.
Step 2: Light exercise
Again, this step is dependent on the type of activity that is taking place, so a light jog is a great way to engage all your muscles and slowly increase your blood circulation. Take as much time as you need - the aim of this is not too significantly increase your heart rate, but to nurture the body increasing suppleness and focus in the meantime. When you feel comfortable in what your body is about to endure then you should move on to the next procedure.
Step 3: Dynamic Stretching (see image; AS Monaco)
So you have completed some static stretches and light jogging, but now it is time to consolidate these steps. Dynamic stretching combines both processes, to extend the range of motion that muscles will face during exercise. Examples of dyanmic stretching include: lunges, hip rotations, walking knee hugs, leg swings, half squats, backward skips. They should continue to enhance the bodies mobility and will also ensure the blood remains pumping around the body. It is recommended that 4-6 dynamic stretches take place.
Step 4: Final Preparation
Your body should now be ready for cardiovasular activity. This is the part of the warm up where you will really feel the benefits. You've stretched, increased your heart rate and your muscles are warm so time for the final step - increasing the intensity of your exercise. This is a good way to bridge the gap between light exercise and full on intense game play. Many coaches would recommend three quarter sprints, quickened side steps and quick knee raises. At this point your blood circulation should now be ready and your mental awareness should be on the game. Ball work can then be included at this stage if warming up as part of a team.
Step 5: Go out and do your business
The warm up will have your body both physically and mentally equipped. It is time to reap the rewards and enjoy your game!
Think of a better way to do it?
Great! Tailor your warm up to whatever suits you - it is your body after all!
[Sources: Fitday.com, Greatist.com, Turnstep.com]