The Whys and Hows of Warming up

Author: Noah Kaminsky, PT, DPT, CSCS

Getting warmed up prior to sports or exercise has many benefits.  Performing warm-ups increase muscle temperature and blood flow which contributes to improved performance and reduced risk of injury Some other benefits include:

  • Improved range of motion
  • Improved flexibility and muscle elasticity
  • Increased muscle activation
  • Increased body temperature
  • Improved oxygen efficiency to muscles
  • Prepares the body for the activity at hand

Components of a Warm Up

A typical warm up includes soft tissue work, mobility drills, muscle activation, and dynamic warm up.  The soft tissue component includes foam rolling the major muscle groups both upper extremity and lower extremity.  This can be done using a foam roller or a lacrosse ball.  The next component is going through mobility drills.  These include mobilization exercises of the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine.  The next is muscle activation.  Muscle activation is with use of mini bands or other bands isolating certain muscle groups.  A dynamic warm up uses the muscles and the movement to take a joint through the full available range of motion.

Components of a Good Dynamic Warm up

A good dynamic warm up:

  • Proceeded by soft tissue work
  • Progresses from ground to standing
  • Progresses from single-joint to multi-joint movements
  • Addresses mobility at ankles, hips, and thoracic spine
  • Increases body temperature