Posts filed under ‘P. Chace Donathan’

The Importance of Proper Warm-up and Stretching

Warming up and stretching properly is a crucial part to any exercise regimen or sports activity. Athletes and active individuals alike should not underestimate the importance of a structured warm-up routine, when it comes to the prevention of injury.

The main purpose of warming up is to prepare the body and mind for more strenuous activity. A proper warm-up will increase the body’s core temperature, resulting in increased blood flow which in turn increases the muscle temperature. The increase in muscle temperature helps to make the muscles more loose and pliable. The increased blood flow will increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients, which helps to prepare the body for the strenuous activity that is about to take place.

The increased blood flow resulting from a warm up not only raises the temperature of the muscles thereby decreasing injury risk, but also increases the nervous system’s effectiveness.  Your Central Nervous System will “wake up” and slowly start firing motor units.  Motor units are used to control different parts of a muscle. Each time a motor unit is fired during the warm up, the connection between CNS and the muscle is strengthened.

So far we have talked about the “warm-up,” but not stretching. One key thing to remember is: Stretching is a critical part of the warm-up, but stretching is NOT the warm-up. Rather, you should think of stretching as part of the warm-up. Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury, and properly rehabilitating common injuries.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.

An example of a proper warm-up and stretch routine

 General warm-up

The general warm-up should consist of a light physical activity. In general, a correct warm-up for the average person should take about five to ten minutes and result in a light sweat. This will help to prepare your body to get the most out of your stretching routine. There are many resources available to you when it comes to stretching. Many coaches, athletic trainers, therapists, strength and conditioning coaches, PE teachers, physicians, and other health professionals are very knowledgeable about proper technique and theories. If you are unsure about how to stretch properly, ask for help!  Stretching incorrectly can cause injury! In my opinion, static stretching is the best way to start as it is safe and effective.

Static stretching

Static stretching is performed by placing the body into a position whereby the muscle/s is under tension. Slowly move the body to increase the tension of the muscle, or group of muscles to be stretched. At this point the position is held or maintained (about 20 seconds) to allow the muscles and associated soft tissue to lengthen. This is repeated 3-5 times with the goal of progressively lengthening the muscle and soft tissue slightly with each static stretch. Again, it is important to not overstretch the muscle as it may result in injury.

Dynamic stretching

This form of stretching carries with it an increased risk of injury if used incorrectly. Dynamic stretching should only be attempted with proper education and supervision (for beginners). Dynamic stretching is just as useful for muscular conditioning as it is for flexibility, and is best suited for well trained athletes. Dynamic stretching should be incorporated after a high level of general flexibility has been established.

Dynamic stretching involves a controlled, soft bounce or swinging motion to force a particular body part past its normal range of motion. The force of the bounce or swing is gradually increased but should never become radical or uncontrolled.

So get serious about your warm-up! Reduce your risk of injury and improve your athletic performance


P. Chace Donathan, M. Ed, ATC, LAT, OTC


January 18, 2012 at 1:53 am Leave a comment


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