The Benefits of Warmup

Benefits of Warmup

A warmup is an integral part of working out, playing sports and even just to getting your day started. It primes the body for physical activity but also gets you psychologically ready and focused for the activity to perform your best and to your full potential. It can also serve to fill gaps in a training session and be part of an injury reduction program. The most exposure we get to watching an intense and thorough warm-up is usually with professional athletes, and we don’t even see some of it; a lot goes on behind the scenes before and after games. However, even the amateur athletes and the general public can benefit from a warm-up to prep their body before their activities or focus on any current injuries, pain or any restrictions to their daily routine, i.e. stiffness, soreness, etc.

The Goals of a Good Warm-Up

The goals of a warm-up are to:

  1. Increase body temperature
  2. Tissue extensibility
  3. Work on nervous system excitability
  4. Reduce sport risk
  5. Prepare for the demands of the session
  6. Target current/prior injury
  7. Help specific movement limitations

How to Structure Your Warm-Up

An excellent way to structure a warm-up is to start with an overall movement to get the body moving to target the first three points above. Once feeling primed, move on to more specific movements to your sport or activity or any limitations or areas needing particular attention reflecting the last four points above. The session should last around 10-30 minutes in total. A great time saver is to do the movement, exercise, activity, or sport at a lower intensity and gradually increase the intensity over a few minutes. For example, if you are about to run, a jog building up to your final pace, or if you are squatting, a few light sets of squats are ideal.

The RAMP Protocol

Sports have greater variability and, therefore, require a few more components for warmup, but they can help with injury reduction and contribute to overall training with some tweaks for strength, speed, balance, etc. There are a few ways to structure your pre-workouts to hit the principles above, but a common one is the RAMP protocol that you may stumble upon or that you see utilized already by teams and individuals.

Raise– increase body temperature and heart rate

Activate– address key muscle groups

Mobilize– move main joints

Potentiate– get the body ready for maximal intensity

Sport Specific Warm Up

Let’s put this into some sport-specific examples with ideas for exercises. First, we’ll start by thinking of a warm-up for an ice hockey player/team. They will begin with dryland physical activity, and you will see them playing keep-ups with a soccer ball, spike ball, volleyball, etc., then moving on to some basic running, including A-skips, fast feet, heel and toe walking, knee hugs, and quad pulls. Moving onto dynamic range of motion movements such as arm swings, cat cows, low walking, wide stance alternating toe taps, lateral lunges, and mountain climbers, then building intensity up with power jumps, wall drives, strides, Y-drill, and sprints. At this point, players can work on their individual needs for prehab or rehab. Of course, afterwards, they then move onto the ice for stick handling, passing, and shooting, which are more sport-specific.

Now let’s reflect on another sport like soccer; you’ll see some high knees, butt kicks, skipping, side shuffle, karaoke, backpedalling, etc., between cones. Then the players move onto dynamic range of motion exercises with arm circles, inchworms, lunges with thoracic twists, squats, leg swings, push-up to toe taps, and possibly some resistance band exercises for extra muscle activation. Smoothly transitioning to potentiation with bounds, jumps, hops, 3-cone drills, throws, and sprints with time to focus on some individual requirements afterward. Finally, a ball will be added, and again, they will do some passing, dribbling, and kicking/shooting getting ready for game skills.

Warm-ups are a vital component before any activity, workout, sports, etc, to get the body ready physically and mentally to perform optimally. A proper warm-up should be as high on the priority list with the same amount of effort as the workout or game itself. They have been shown to decrease the risk of injury, improve performance, help with overall training, and target old/current injuries or areas of limitations, which should hopefully be motivation enough not to skip your warm-up!

Ready to maximize your workout and protect your body from injury? Discover the transformative power of a proper warm-up! Our experts at Alpha Health Services are here to guide you through effective warm-up techniques that can elevate your performance and ensure you’re getting the most out of every movement. Don’t let preventable injuries sideline your fitness journey. Click here to learn more about the benefits of warming up and start your routine the right way today!

Alison Parker, Registered Physiotherapist





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