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The science behind effective warm-ups

George Olney, an Exercise Specialist at the Better Body Group, looks at the science of how to warm-up properly.

Getting ready to hit the field or the gym? Don’t just jump in cold. Effective warm-ups are crucial to getting your body primed for action while cutting down the risk of injuries.

George Olney is an Exercise Specialist at the Better Body Group. For more information or any questions, please
call their friendly and expert team on
01732 451979 or email them at info@betterbodygroup.co.uk.

A top-notch warm-up routine usually has three main parts: some cardio, stretching, and movements that mirror what you’re about to do.

Let’s dive into why these elements work, how they benefit you, and what the science says about putting together a killer warm-up strategy.

Static stretching
Static stretching is when you hold a stretch for about 30 seconds or more to boost your flexibility and range of motion (ROM). But when it comes to strength and power activities, the jury’s still out.

Research shows that if you stretch too long (like over a minute), it can actually sap your power for things like jumps and strength tests because it might tire out your muscles. On the flip side, keeping those static stretches short can still help with flexibility and injury prevention without messing with your performance.

Dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretching is all about moving your joints through their full range of motion with active movements, much like the ones you’ll be doing in your workout.

This type of stretching is a winner for warm-ups. It gets your heart pumping, heats up your muscles, and even boosts performance by improving coordination and strength.

Studies show that doing dynamic stretches for about 6-12 minutes can enhance things like vertical jumps and overall power. But don’t overdo it, more than 90 seconds at a stretch might leave you feeling fatigued.

Keep your form sharp to avoid slipping into ballistic stretching, which involves bouncing and can be risky.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation is a bit more complex and usually needs a partner. It’s great for boosting flexibility but can reduce strength and power if done right before a workout. Because it’s tricky and can be uncomfortable, it’s not the best fit for regular warm-ups.

However, it’s fantastic for rehab and recovery when athletes are bouncing back from injuries.

Recommendations for an effective warm-up
So, what makes a warm-up truly effective? Based on the latest science, focus on dynamic stretching and movements that mimic your upcoming activity to get the best performance and injury prevention.

Static stretching is fine in small doses, keep it under 60 seconds to avoid any dip in strength and power.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation is best saved for rehab and isn’t ideal for your standard warm-up.

Tailor your warm-up to the specific activity you’re gearing up for, emphasising dynamic moves and proper prep to stay safe and perform at your best.

• Make an appointment with the Better Body Group by calling them on 01732 451979 or email them at info@betterbodygroup.co.uk.

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