| Article written on July 6th, 2016 at 10:33pm | Follow Garrett on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram |
The dynamic warm-up is one of the most important aspects of training. And, that is regardless of whether it’s for a lifting session or marathon. The biggest problem I see is people aimlessly throw together different drills and exercises and are happy they “warmed” up. Unfortunately, tissue temperature is not the only characteristic we are trying to attain. In this post, I will explain more. Here are 5 reasons you should incorporate a better dynamic warm-up:
1. You hate sludging through the first 5-10 minutes before your body is truly ready to kick it into gear. To be honest, I’m not even sure if sludging is a word, especially since it’s giving me the red squiggly line underneath. But you know exactly what I mean!
When you begin exercising before you are truly warmed up, movement is difficult. Tissues are tight, joints haven’t been lubricated, nerve signals are sent a little more slowly, and you just aren’t mentally focused yet. These 5-10 minutes will be better suited with a dynamic warm-up!
2. You have limited range of motion, mobility, and/or high levels of muscular tension.
Restriction in range of motion can be a negative when looking to thrive in your training. Especially if full ranges of motion are needed to be successful. The dynamic warm-up should take into consideration your specific deficiencies. Adding self-myofascial release (SMR), flexibility, mobility, and functional movement aimed at restoring or improving range of motion can be worthwhile. Don’t get stuck only thinking about tissue temperature. Spend some time improving your weaknesses.
3. Inhibition and poor activation are common problems which limit performance.
On a weekly basis, I come across people who are not firing important muscles to their fullest extent. This can range from muscles in the feet, all the way to the hips, core, and shoulders. When inhibition or poor firing occurs, compensation takes over to accomplish the same movement, but with other muscles. Over time, this is where tightness, tension, and overuse injuries can stem from.
Incorporating specific activation exercises within your pre-training routine can be monumental to the improvements you see. Getting inhibited muscles firing again results in better strength and power, as well as less compensation by surrounding muscles to aid in movement.
4. Improving function on the front end allows for better integrated changes.
One of my biggest pet peeves is stretching and foam rolling and doing nothing further. This will almost every time lead to limited or no improvements in function. But, doing corrective-based exercises on the front end, incorporating integration exercises, followed by training, allows for more long-term adaptation.
What we need to realize is that the brain and nervous system are the computer processors behind it all. Most of the interventions I see are aimed at specific muscles and joints without connecting with the nervous system. So when you have a specific limitation, it may be more beneficial to address it before you train or atleast incorporate integration exercises after to solidify these changes within the nervous system.
5. Locomotion sets the stage more advanced movement training.
Locomotion is a form of movement that gets us from point A to point B. As we develop, we sit up, roll over, crawl, walk, etc. But as we age, some of these locomotor skills become increasingly more difficult in a society who lacks movement competency.
Most high level athletes use locomotion drills to improve movement quality and prepare for training. This can be in the form of rolling patterns, to hopping, bounding, and skipping. They are a great supplement after working on your limitations to further increase tissue temperature and improving timing and coordination. Essentially, it is the last step in an effective dynamic warm-up that primes the neuromuscular system.
Therefore, the dynamic warm-up can provide significant benefits when structured properly to make movement quality the focus. That is why I educate my clients on how to incorporate the RAIL system as their warm-up. RAIL stands for Release, Activate, Integrate, and Locomote. When these four areas are combined within a system, improvements in movement and performance are often the result. It’s not enough to focus solely on tissue temperature as this can easily be attained while accomplishing more worthwhile goals.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART