There should be no second thoughts on preparing before and after any sport or fitness training. This may help athletes to prevent injuries and pull through to get ready for their next challenge.
There is much research available on warm up, static versus dynamic stretches and its necessity, to perform better during any event. From budding to professional athletes, everyone concentrates on their groundwork before their practice or events which are supported by their parents and coaches/trainers, but not many do their warm down properly unless they are guided by trained professionals.
In my experience, most of the athletes I have assessed and treated were lacking in cooling down after practice or competition. There wasn’t enough importance placed on preparing for the next game or training.
Cooling down is as essential as warming up. Muscle inflexibility is directly connected to altered biomechanics which may lead to potential injury even with regular preparation before training or game. To continue to lessen the stresses on your precious body, cool-down also plays a significant role.
In this increasingly fast-paced and technologically-driven world, the importance of proper warm up and cool down processes does tend to get overlooked due to lack of time. However it is simply a matter of being innovative before we work out or compete. This can be done by either brisk of fast walking, or even jogging to the game (or gym), and utilisation of dynamic drills and proper stretching prior to working out which can minimise the risk of injuries.
If you do not have the time for a static stretch, make sure you stretch before hitting the bed by spending at least 10-15 minutes to focus on the above-mentioned muscles.
Be good to yourself and your body, so that you can allow it to adjust and prepare properly for the next challenge!
There are many different methods of warming up and cooling down, but here is just one example:
- 5-10 minutes of jog to increase core body temperature
- 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretches – raise muscle temperature, elongates the muscles, stimulates the nervous system which may reduce the chance of injuries like strain etc.
- 10-15 minutes of game related drills (in footy for example this would involve lower leg activities, and technique practice such as ball kick, tackles, quick ball passes etc.)
- 30-40 metre quick sprints with ball passes (paying attention to running technique with good upright posture, hip & knee lift with good arm swings)
- 5-10 minutes of walking to lower your pulse to average level and to reduce the body temperature
- 10-15 mins of static stretch which may help in maintaining flexibility
- Be careful not to stretch beyond the available range of movement of a particular joint, which may cause micro or macro damage to a muscle or a group of muscles
- For Footy players – stretch your calves, hamstrings, quads, adductors (inner thigh), gluts, lower back, front chest, shoulders, and elbow/wrist/fingers. Don’t forget your neck too.
- Be kind to your precious body!