How an athlete prepares their body directly before an event will determine how they perform. Without a proper warm up, athletes will get injured. Many people realize that preparing their muscles before exercise is important, and numerous sports teams warm up by simply sitting in a circle and stretching. However, that is not the most beneficial way to prepare your body.
“A lot of times the misconception is that athletes need to sit and do static stretching,” says Head Athletic Trainer JaNae Stewart. “Static stretching is always good, but dynamic stretching needs to be done right before the event so that [the athletes] are moving and getting ready for their game. A dynamic warm up focuses more on mobility, which is extremely important.”
A dynamic warm up can include many things, such as the typical high-knees, butt-kicks, lunges, etc. While performing a dynamic stretch, you primarily perform a stretch multiple times while walking in a straight line. For example, an athlete might stretch their hamstring, pause for a moment, then continue walking across the gym and stretch again in a few steps. Usually after the stretches, athletes will run or do another form of a cardio workout to get their heart rates up.
Through the Strength and Conditioning program, JaNae has taught numerous athletes how to properly perform dynamic stretches. A typical routine to warm up before a strength and conditioning session includes multiple leg stretches, as well as jogging, back peddling, shuffles, and more. It is as much about the stretching as it is about getting the heart pumping and getting loosened up.
It is important to get your muscles moving through these dynamic stretches in order to make sure they are “warm” for the activity you must perform. If an athlete fails to get properly loosened up, they could get seriously injured. Taking twenty minutes to perform a dynamic warm up may prevent an injury that takes months to heal.