If you want to perform at your best — on the court, on the field or on the pitch– you need to know how to get your body ready for intense activity. Yet most people, even many high level sports people, don’t understand the basics of a good warm up.
So how do you warm up best? With some slow, sustained general body stretches, right?
Most studies show little or no benefit in a generalised, non-specific stretching program to prevent injury.
Scientific evidence indicates that active warm-up, as opposed to slow passive stretching, is the best injury preventative. In other words, get moving! So the puppy in the photograph could probably be doing things a little better!
You will also need to do some core muscle activation, and some sports-specific drills.
An example of an active warm-up that focuses on the leg muscles might include the following activities:
- A slow 400 metre jog to start the process
- Next, do a few minutes of light movements. These should concentrate on (a) relaxed gentle movement (b) all the way to the end of range (c) in each direction (d) for all your joints. Make sure that you move your spine and neck as well as your limbs. If you have any specific muscle imbalances or physio-prescribed exercises/stretches, now is an ideal time to work on them.
- Now perform some exercises to activate your core muscles (if you know how … if you’re unsure than please contact us directly). This is an important step to awaken them for the task ahead, which is unfortunately often omitted.
- Now move to an active phase. Start with half a dozen 40-60m runs at 50% pace, walking back in between. Slowly increase your stride length with each repetition. Activate your core muscles as you run.
- Add another half a dozen “run through” sprints of 40-60 metres, beginning at 50% pace, and increasing by 10% each repetition.
- Perform 3-5 backwards jogs over 20 metres, and then a similar set of sideways runs.
- Finally, add sports-specific skills (e.g. kicking: start at 20m, then increase to full strength over 20 kicks.)
By the time you have completed this warm up, your muscles and joints will be loose, your core muscles activated and ready to protect your joints, and your cardiovascular system will be ready to go. You’ll hit the playing field in peak condition, and not only will you help to prevent injuries – both short and long term – but you’ll be ready to fire from the first whistle.
Although one of the most popular and convenient ways to stay fit, running is also one of the easiest ways for you to develop an injury. The impact and stress of running can be hard on your muscles and joints, commonly resulting in injuries to your hips, knees, ankles, and feet.
How to Avoid Running Injuries?
There are several simple techniques to help you avoid running injuries.
- Perform a Warm Up & Cool Down. You may have specific stretches that have been prescribed by your physio—your warm up/down is an ideal time to per-form them. However, general static stretching is not as effective as once thought. A better method of warming up is to start very gently—perhaps with a walk—and gradually increase your pace.
- Wear appropriate footwear suitable to your foot structure. Recent research indicates that softer, pad-ded footwear may actually be worse for your joint than a harder sole. Keep this in mind when buying your next pair of shoes.
- If your foot has biomechanical problems, you would probably benefit from orthotics, which can be fitted on-the-spot at either of our PhysioWorks clinics.
- Avoid over training – ask us for advice. As a general rule, do not increase your training by more than 10% each week. Do not try to beat your previous times every day! Take it easy, enjoy yourself, and gradually get into the habit of running.
- Common running injuries
Early Warning Signs of Impending Injury
If an ache or pain develops, do not ignore the early warning signs. While some injuries can be immediately evident, others slowly and progressively get worse, making it even more important to act early before chronic problems develop. So what are the early warning signs you should look for?
- Joint pain: Pain that lasts longer than 48 hours needs physiotherapy diagnosis.
- Tenderness: If pressing your finger into a specific point causes pain, and the same pain is not produced on the opposite side of the body, please ask for advice.
- Swelling: Usually obvious, swelling often co-exists with pain and heat. The area will feel “full”.
- Reduced Range of Motion: Compare with opposite side of body.
- Weakness: Perform tasks on both sides of body to identify weakness.
Other warning signs that you have overtrained include
- Pain that does not go away when you warm up
- Aching that persists for more than 30 minutes after you have cooled down, or
- Stiffness and pain the following morning.
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, please give us a call. We will save you months of pain and frustration. We’ll have you back jogging pain free again in no time!
For more information on running injuries, please see http://www.physioworks.com.au/Injuries-Conditions/Activities/running-injuries or visit us directly at http://www.physioworks.com.au/Bulimba/bulimba.htm or http://www.physioworks.com.au/Mansfield/mansfield.htm