This is the first of a 5-part series on injury prevention for sports. Injuries in sports are more common than we like to acknowledge. Athletes often tend to think of themselves as invincible. And only when they’re struck by injury do they realize they need to do exercises to prevent injuries while they’re still healthy.
It’s often an athlete’s worst nightmare to be struck by an injury right before a competition or big event. Here are ways that you can help prevent injuries from happening to you and help prolong your ability to do competitive sports.
The Importance of Warming Up before you Exercise or Start Your Sport
Warming up is one of the most commonly skipped parts in a sport. It’s easy to want to jump right into your sport and not bother with the warm-up. It does take planning because you need to arrive ready and where you need to be at least 5-10 minutes before the scheduled time for your sport or training to start. But just imagine arriving to an event un-warmed-up and going straight into competition or performance. Would you really feel prepared? Treat your practice like like a competition or performance, and you’ll practice stronger, perform better at your event, and hopefully avoid injuries that may have occurred otherwise.
For injury prevention, it’s very important to warm up your muscles before you get into intense exercise. If you forget to warm up and your muscles aren’t ready for the intensity, injuries are much more likely to happen. Also, if you don’t warm up, the beginning of your practice won’t be as beneficial because you’ll be focusing more on warming up your muscles than on your sport. Different bodies may need different length of warm-up, but a good rule of thumb is to warm up for at least 5 minutes, preferably 10 minutes.
1. Pulse Raiser: A pulse raiser is a light form of exercise to raise your heart rate – a light walk moving into a quicker walk, jogging, jump roping, or jumping jacks are examples of a pulse raiser. A pulse raiser is a great way to start your warm-up. You could do this for approximately 2 minutes, depending on how warmed up you’re feeling and how fast your heart rate is.
2, Mobilization: Mobilization exercises are helpful to get your joints lubricated and ready for exercise. Joint injuries, such as tendinitis, are very common in sports. Some examples of mobilization exercises are ankle circles, knee circles, hip circles, torso rotations, and shoulder circles.
3. Foam Rolling: This doesn’t have to be done as part of your warm-up, but it can be a way to get to get your body warm and prepare your muscles for exercise. Foam rolling warms up your muscles in multiple ways. When you’re foam rolling, you have to support your body (often with your arms) to roll out a particular part of the body. Secondly, the area of your body that is being foam rolled is being lengthened, circulation is increased, and the muscles are more prepared for intense exercise. Common places to foam roll that are helpful for sports are quadriceps, hamstrings, IT Bands, glutes, and calves.
4. Dynamic Warm-up: A dynamic warm-up is often used as a final part of a warm-up. It’s used to get your muscles working harder as well as stretching them in a dynamic way. Examples of dynamic warm-ups are grapevines, leg swings or kicks, Spiderman walk, high knees, and butt kicks.
After the warm-up, you should feel ready to do any kind of jumping or movement your sport requires. Your muscles should feel slightly worked. Your heart rate is up, and you should feel warm.
It’s advisable to get a warm-up specific for you and your sport from your sports coach or personal trainer.
Join me for part 2 of Injury Prevention for Sports next Thursday! 🙂
Extra information for skaters: How to Do an Off-Ice Warm-Up by Will Chitwood