What is a Dynamic Warm-up?
Many of us have been through a warm-up of some kind to prep our bodies for an upcoming task or event. Most, if not all, people agree that some sort of warm-up is beneficial before doing physical activity for either injury prevention or overall performance. The question is, “What type of warm-up is best?”
A dynamic warm-up is defined as “a sequential series of movements performed before physical activity. It aims to increase blood flow to muscles, increase functional mobility, maximize available flexibility of the entire body and prepare the body for force production during activity.” This warm-up may vary slightly depending on the sport or activity an individual is preparing for, but keep these foundational principles throughout.
Benefits of a Dynamic Warm-up
This sequential series of movements is intended to recreate stress across the body that mimics the individual’s sport (jumping, landing, changing direction, etc.) to prep the body for these motions at full speed. This is different than a “static” stretching routine that has traditionally been used before physical activity, which involves stretching a given muscle group for a prolonged period of time, usually around 30 seconds.
Research shows that not only are athletes that perform a structured dynamic warm-up performing better in their activity compared to those that static stretch or don’t warm up at all, but they experience lower injury risk.
As a matter of fact, static stretching actually has a strong correlation to increased risk of injury during a sport when performed before the activity. Recognizing that static stretching has its use in recovery should be minimally utilized before physical activity, particularly activity with a high demand on the body.
A dynamic warm-up is a critical performance habit before physical activity because it prepares the body to perform at a high level by improving how it works together. What this all relates back to is a better sense of control and strength when performing at “game speed,” particularly with neuromuscular control (Think about it like Brain-Body Connection) and force production (Strength/Power).
These two components strongly influence athletic performance and significantly reduce the incidence of injury no matter the sport. To boil it down, the more prepared your body is to perform, the stronger and safer it will be.
- Jumping jacks
- Arm circles
- Side shuffles
- Leg swings
Wright Physical Therapy’s Dynamic Warm-up
Wright Physical Therapy’s exclusive dynamic warm-up is set up in a specific order to hit the three main components of an effective warm-up.
1. Promote Circulation and Increase Body Temperature
These movements use large muscle groups repetitively at moderate speeds to increase the body’s core temperature and promote circulation to the muscle groups used in the sport. These movements also promote general flexibility through the area.
2. Priming/Coordination Exercise
The goal of these exercises is to build body awareness and control working through movements that will be recreated at higher speeds during the game, such as landing and twisting.
3. Plyometrics and Agility
This is the final stage of the warm-up and should have the athletes breathing and sweating at a moderate to the high ventilatory threshold level. These motions are recreating “game speed,” intending to put similar stresses across the body.
Even the best warm-up cannot and should not replace a good strength and conditioning program or physical therapy when appropriate. Although it is impossible to prevent 100% of injuries, Wright PT hopes to help prevent the 30-50% of injuries that research shows can be prevented with a proper warm-up through our programs.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound in cure. At the end of the day, injury prevention will always have more long-term impact on an athlete’s life than even the most effective rehabilitation. Taking the warm-up seriously, doing the right movements, and working at the right intensity before the performance will reduce injury and positively impact performance.