All Systems Go; The Warm Up
Sports Science Basics for Runners
By Dr. David Cosman in Hong Kong
Your warm up routine should be routine, or fairly consistent, whether you are going for a long easy run, preparing for a speed interval track workout, or if it is race day. A proper warm up routine for a 16 year old athlete should remain fairly consistent throughout the person’s athletic life, be it recreational or competitive. Warm ups are sports specific, but there will be more commonalities than differences.
The goal is to wake up and warm up the nerve/muscle reflex systems to truly prepare the whole body for running. A five minute jog followed by five minutes of stretching is a minimal warm up at best. Drills to stimulate neuro-musclular coordination should be incorporated into the warm up. The standard drills I teach for this are "tempo jog", stretching and “power-speed drills”.
The idea of an effective warm up is that the nerves in fascia (the body’s global network of connective tissue), muscles and joints help coordinate proper sequenced motion from segment to segment to segment in your body; the warmed up nerves in the muscles (actually in the fascia of the muscle) send coordinated messages to antagonists (opposing muscles) and to other segments and to the brain. The brain sends reflexive messages back to various muscles, telling the muscles how to react.
Without warm up activation, reflexes might be slow and muscles can be uncoordinated; this can result in injuries. Old injuries and sticky fascia (densifications/adhesions) can inhibit coordination from body segment to body segment.
Runners should always incorporate a thorough consistent neuro-muscular warm up into their program; it prevents injuries while improving technique and performance.