This helpful information has been provided by Natalie Harman at the Sports Injury Clinic
Why should I warm up and cool down for sport or activity?
There are numerous health benefits associated with performing an effective warm up and cool down before and after sport or activity. These include:
* Reduced likelihood of injury
* Improved athletic performance
* Greater mental concentration
* Improved fitness
* Faster recovery from activity
* Improved flexibility
How long should I warm up for?
One of the best ways to prevent injury is with an effective warm up prior to sport or activity. A proper warm up should be at least 15-20 minutes in duration and should progress through a variety of stages and warm up activities.
What is the purpose of a warm up?
The purpose of an effective warm up is to increase your heart rate and body temperature, and to facilitate blood flow to the muscles to be used during the activity. This increase in blood flow, heart rate and body temperature during the warm up improves the elasticity of both muscles and joints, alerts neural pathways and stimulates muscles in preparation for performance.
How to warm up
As a general guideline, an effective warm up should produce mild sweating without fatigue and should progress through four primary phases:
Warm up – Phase 1
The first phase of a warm up should involve a low intensity cardiovascular exercise such as light jogging or walking to increase the heart rate and blood flow to muscles. This phase of the warm up should last for 5-10mins.
Warm up – Phase 2
The second phase of the warm up should involve dynamic range of movement exercises to loosen up the joints and muscles to be used. This phase of the warm up should focus on those specific body parts to be used for that particular sport. These warm up stretches should be dynamic rather than static as static stretches will decrease heart rate and cause a cooling effect thereby opposing the goals of a warm up. Some examples of dynamic warm up stretches include lunges, squats, lower back rotations, trunk rotations, leg kicks, arm rotations. For cricket, hold a cricket bat and perform behind head twists, woodchoppers, figure of eights, standing chest press and twist passes.
Warm up – Phase 3
The third phase of a warm up should entail warm up activities involving agility, acceleration, deceleration and speed drills, preparing your body for faster movements that will be required for your particular sport. This should involve a gradual progression starting at low intensity and building up to greater intensity. This phase of the warm up may involve, for example, repeated strides, initially in straight lines and at low intensities and then progressing to change of direction and greater intensities.
Warm up – Phase 4
The fourth and final phase of a warm up is the sport specific phase. This is where you perform the skills involved in your particular sport, initially at low intensity and then building up to greater intensity. For example, wicketkeepers and bowlers can perform some fielding, throwing and catching drills while the batsman can practice batting drills. By the end of this phase of the warm up you should be performing your particular skill at 100%, thereby ensuring you body is ready to perform the required skills in a match situation at 100%.
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