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Your warm-up is an important part of your exercise routine, but are you doing it right?

A good warm-up routine should look into various physiological parameters. It should increase blood flow, accelerate muscle metabolism, activate key muscles required for sports, prepare the nervous system, decrease intramuscular resistance, and increase your range of motion.

A commonly seen warm-up routine comprises a slow jog, followed by some static stretching. It is thought that stretching can enhance performance and prevent injury. However, there is minimal evidence to show that stretching can reduce injuries and yield better exercise outcomes. In fact, stretching without adequate conditioning increases the risk of injury and affects muscle performance for up to one hour!

TRY THIS OUT!

The current recommended model of pre-exercise preparations are general warm-ups, sports specific muscle activation, dynamic stretching and neural activation done in this order.

The next time you go for a run, try the following preparations in sequence:

  1. 3 minutes of marching on the spot
  2. 10 repetitions of bent knee donkey kicks, bent knee side leg raises and inverted reaches
  3. 10 repetitions of dynamic stretch for hamstring, buttocks, thighs and torso rotation
  4. 2 sets of 10 repetitions of high knee march, high knee skips and straight leg skips

This sequence of exercise preparation is often seen in professional level soccer matches. We can see athletes going through strengthening exercises with mini bands for muscle activation, followed by dynamic stretching to improve range of motion and finally sport specific drills for neural activation before the match starts.

By Ray Loh, Exercise Physiologist
Sports Medicine and Surgery Clinic, Tan Tock Seng Hospital

This article first appeared in the October - December 2015 issue of GP BUZZ, a publication by Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Tags: Health Matters