How to/Should you- Warm-Up/Stretch
There is now so much debate about the validity of doing a warm-up prior to intense physical exertion.
Studies are now being published that suggest that you can do something dynamic, not passive, but that stretching should only be done after the activity to remove lactic acid from the muscles.
As has been stated elsewhere you can always find a study to support an opinion.
If you do a session in the Performance Center, guaranteed, the first thing you will be put through is the Cobra pattern series developed by moi, Coach Franz ( no snakes were harmed)- that should give you an idea where this article is heading!
Simply put the objective of a warm-up is to place the individual in optimal physiological (increasing heart rate and body temperature), neurological (getting the nervous system activated) and psychological state (finding focus), so that training capacity is at its maximum.
Can someone just 'jump right on in' to the activity, without these components? Absolutely, but not what we recommend. Why not? Well, think of your body as a finely tuned sports car , like a Ferrari. Would you, jump in, rev the engine into the red, and peel off, when the car has been sitting for hours? Can you, absolutely, but not what we recommend. If your body was like an entry level car- could you do it? Absolutely, but we still don't recommend it. Mechanical parts are built with specific tolerances, just like your body. If the systems are not 'lubricated' and moving cohesively you run the risk of damage. In your body, that can mean injury and now recovery.
Simple example- in brief- I am now recovering from a strained intercostal muscle- (feels like someone stabbed you). This came at the end of a training session where I had done only instruction and was now just simply hopping onto a jump box. I have done these for years by the way. Breathing, stretching and sneezing is not fun currently. Now, I am not saying I could not have injured myself if I had been fully warmed up, but more than likely it would have been my attempt to push a boundary, say supine leg press of 705 lbs. (insert smiley face)
Sometimes I use science to confirm what I already know from years of competing at high levels. This is one of those cases, as there are several studies, including TPI articles over the years to support this point of the importance of a proper warm-up.
I was taught at an early age when it was considered cutting edge by my Father to stretch and warm up properly, and to this day I continue to do so. The number of injuries I had in my sporting career of over THREE decades can be counted on one hand!
My day starts early as my students know, and its usually with 25 minutes of combined stretching and foam rolling.
Now, how to actually do a warm up?
Looking at the 3 components above, a warm up can actually have a base that everyone can do, but should be individualized, especially if there are any limitations we need to work with or around.
There are many movement patterns that can be utilized, but generally I do not advise on a routine until the individual has been assessed. For example, most Coaches give a 90/90 (hurdlers' stretch pattern) for hip flexors. Great stretch, do it every day However, how do I know that your quadratus lumborum muscle is compromised on one side and doing this particular stretch is actually straining that area. If I had you foam roll it out first, you would have infused the area with blood, elongated the muscle appropriately, put some pliability into it so to speak, so there is no discomfort, or worst micro tears occurring ( I am simplifying to reach a broad audience with varying levels of anatomical understanding) Overhead band retractions as seen on tour that Rori McIlroy does. Great, I use it prior to every hitting session. You however have a rotator cuff injury that makes it not only difficult but painful for you to do. Of course I could go on ad nauseam.
We have one body, and if we take care of our cars for optimum performance and years of utilization, we should do the same with out bodies, especially given that trading it in, or selling it is really not an option.
The Performance Center/Fit