Play safe- RAMP

How early do you appear in the locker room before practice? Do you come early and talk with mates? Or you come just in time or your parents transfer you and you go from a car right to the pitch? What is a warm-up to you and can you do it properly?

Let’s start from the beginning and with what we normally see on the TV broadcasting national team or Champions League matches. You always see a clean player with elegant hair in a clean outfit coming out to sing an anthem. Nobody wonders that the player did hard work during the pre-game warm-up to stimulate his body to play the entire 90 minutes or more with full energy. A TV station does not broadcast warm-ups since it is not attractive. But you need to remember that a warm-up is an integral part of every practice and match. And if you do it right, it will bring you nothing but benefits of a better preparation of body, minimizing risk of injury and stimulating your nervous system to adapt to the match situations you will find yourself in.

Raise – raise your body temperature

Many warm-up elements can be done in a locker room or a club corridor. All your activities may allow the coach to reduce the time needed for a traditional warm-up. So it is worth to come a while before practice and prepare on your own. At first, you should raise the temperature in the muscles, flex the tissues and improve blood circulation. You can start from rolling consecutive muscle sections with a foam roller. Few or several exercises for each muscle section is enough to make the tissues flexible and improve locomotion. Between these exercises, you can add series of exercises like push-ups, sit-ups, back extension, plank, side plank or squats. All without weights and only with a weight of your body. If possible and available, you can use a stationary exercise bike or normal jogging or jogging without moving forward. 5-7 minutes will be enough.

Activate – Activation of primary muscle groups

When your body and muscle temperature is raised, you can do exercises with mini bands to activate the primary muscle groups. We talk about the core muscles, muscular corset, abdomen muscles and back muscles. Next, there are buttock muscles, biceps femoris, gastrocnemius and the quadriceps. You can start with doing exercises statically by standing, lying, in high supports like wall drill or low supports. Then, move to the exercises with movement starting from a simple movement forward and backward, through the sideward movement or in different directions. Activate each muscle section in 6-8 repetitions. This will take you about 7 minutes.

Mobilize – Mobilization, range of mobility

At this point, you are already prepared to perform all movements in peripheral joints. Your muscles are “warmed” so now it is time for mobility. At this stage, you will perform exercises in possibly full ranges of mobility in all joints combining it with other skips, waves of hands or legs, circumduction, multi-directional movement and DYNAMIC stretching. Why did I stress DYNAMIC? It is simple, if you read the article on stretching, you know it depends on raising the muscle temperature. So, you just exercised not to cool your muscles during static stretching. In this case, we should consider it an important difference for the advantage of dynamic stretching. This section will take you about 7 minutes.

Potentiate – or conductivity of nerve impulses

In this phase, you can use dynamic exercises typical to your sport, practice or even position on the pitch. And even adapt to your assumptions for today’s match. In this way, you will stimulate your nervous system to send nerve impulses faster. This will allow you be more effective during a match or practice. This phase will take you about 5-6 minutes.

I believe you are now more conscious how important is warm-up and why do it and how to do it properly. Regular performance of warm-up and a good program will protect you against injury, improve your efficiency and improve potential during practice and matches.

Patryk Bieńkowski, M.A.

Physiotherapist, Manual therapist, Motor preparation coach