Why do young athletes need to warm up?
Why do young athletes need to warm up? At the end of last season, I treated a young athlete who sustained a calf strain at the start of an important match. It seemed a typical scenario, arriving at a fixture with very little time to warm up and straight into a game. So why is warm up so important and what is the point of a warm up?
What is a warm up?
We all know what a warm up is but do we really know why we do it?
Often I feel as with stretching it is done half-heartedly because it is always done and no one really knows why. I see young athletes jogging around a pitch often with minimal enthusiasm and chatting about their day at school.
The idea of a warm up is to get your body ready for the exercise you are about to do. It maybe getting you ready for a training session or a match. Now think about what level of ready you need to be for a training session compared to a match and then you may start to think about the use of a warm up.
Your body isn’t always switched on ready for action at any time. So you need to prepare your body and your mind to the task ahead. Imagine how your body feels when you first wake up in the morning. Most of us wouldn’t jump out of bed and start exercising. It takes time for your body to be ready and this is the saim aim for a warm up.
Alongside this with young athletes who’s muscles are stiffer than an adults they will need to dynamically get the muscles ready to be lengthened. This maybe with deep lunges for tackles or high kicks to be ready for sprints. If you don’t then this is how your body can sometimes not cope and you end up with a strain.
What are the positive effects of a warm up?
There are so many positive things that a warm up can do.
- As mentioned above, it helps to stretch your muscles, this can be done by dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches will also loosen your back and hips.
- Exercises are also aimed at warming up your muscles. This may be exercises to activate your gluteals to protect your hips or squats to warm up for quadriceps protecting your knees.
- Exercises are also aimed at working on your technique using the time in the warm up to focus on how you are moving. Perfecting your squats or lunges and watching how you use your back. The more you understand how to move and learn to move well the less you stress your body.
- Finally, use the warm up to bring your mind into the session. Use it to forget about the day that’s passed. This will allow you to bring your attention to how you are going to perform in that session. When you are preparing for a game a warm up can really get you ready physically and mentally.
What types of exercises go into a warm up?
A good warm up really looks at your sport and isolates important movements that you need. This brings it all together with some sprint work at the end. A lot of thought goes into a good warm up and time needs to be taken to understand the exercises and get into a habit of performing them. Also having a routine will help you remember the exercises. This routine may also help to reduce your pre-competition anxiety and create a great team spirit. Coming together as a team always begins with a warm up so make it your goal to get thinking about the warm up exercises and their benefits!