While warming up is often incorporated into the beginning of training, many times youth athletes do not realize its importance. Many athletes may rush through in order to start playing sooner or use it as a time to talk to their teammates. It is important that youth athletes understand why all athletes should take the time to properly warm up.
Proper warm up allows core body temperature to slowly increase and enables muscles and joints to loosen up. Other benefits of warming up include: reducing delayed onset muscle soreness, increasing athletic performance and reducing the risk of tendon or muscle tears.
At Michael Johnson Performance, we use the term “Dynamics” as the active process of preparing the body for training. There are three main components of Dynamics: Thermogenics, Actives, and Ballistics.
The first portion of Dynamics is Thermogenics, which is intended to raise core body temperature and loosen joints and muscles. Arm circles with a forward skip is a good example of an exercise incorporated into this category.
The second major portion of Dynamics is called Actives, which is intended to increase muscle and joint range of motion, while also resisting unwanted movement around a joint. Within Actives, there are two sub-categories: Active Mobility and Active Stability. Active mobility is movement-based stretching that includes exercises like the Inchworm and Knee-to-Chest Squeeze. Active Stability are low intensity strength exercises to activate muscles that are needed to provide efficient movement, like Supine Glute Bridge and Plank.
The final major portion of Dynamics is called Ballistics, which is intended to ramp-up the body in preparation for training. Ballistics begin with lower intensity, but more rapid movements, like Pogos, then gradually move to higher intensity, near maximum effort movements like skipping for maximum height, bounding, or building up to a sprint.
Often, the muscles that tend to be tight are the hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps, calves and chest muscles. If proper technique is used when warming up, it will help improve flexibility and increase range of motion. This will increase blood flow and decrease stiffness, in turn decreasing the risk of injury or re-injury. If completed properly, Dynamics not only reduce risk of injury, but actually enhance performance. Athletes can sprint faster, jump higher, and cut better when properly warmed up.