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Pre Warm up
It is becoming more prevalent in recent years to see a dazzling array of cones and poles smartly decorated around a football field before a match takes place to almost intimidate the opposition into thinking you have a more advanced method that will give your team the edge. Many researchers conclude that an appropriate warm up can help achieve maximum performance and prevent or reduce the risk of injuries (Chaouachi et al., 2010 and Fradkin et al., 2010). Warming up is always completed before any given field game sports such as rugby, soccer, Gaelic football and hurling. However, in some individual sports golfers (Fradkin et al, 2003). 38.7% felt they did not need to warm up. Runners on the other hand would strongly agree with warming up pre event.
Typically individuals within a team setting will have their own pre warm up rituals based upon their own beliefs and opinions. 15 – 20 minutes in total is enough for warming up pre – event.
McCrary et al (2015) conducted a systematic review to identify the impact of upper body warm-up on performance and injury prevention outcomes. They concluded high-load dynamic warm-ups enhance power and strength performance and short-duration static stretching warm-up has no effect on power outcomes. However some contact related sports cannot control contact related injuries.
Warming-up allows players gradually adapt and prepare themselves both physically and mentally for exercise. Jeffrey’s (2014) proposed a framework around which to build effective warm-ups, the RAMP system.
R - The first phase ‘R’ stands for Raise with the primary goal of elevating body temperature and heart rate through low intensity activities. This involves bringing in some movement exercises to increase body temperature, heart rate, respiration rate, blood flow and joint fluid viscosity.
A – Next phase is Activate. According to Jeffrey’s (2014) this phase involves activating key muscle groups. Activation of key muscle groups is a vital neuromuscular component for stimulating muscles. Studies highlight the growing number of hamstring related injuries in field based sports (Opar et al., 2015) Studies (Opar et al., 2015 and Mills et al. 2015) also back up the lack of glute activation in hip extension as one of the main culprits for the risk of hamstring. That is individuals with hip flexor muscle tightness exhibit less gluteus maximus activation and lower gluteus maximus: biceps femoris co-activation while producing similar net hip and knee extension moments.
Below is a sample of muscle activation exercises using resistance bands. Resistance bands are practical in their use as players can have them in their sports bag at all times and they also stimulate muscle activation quickly which is ideal when your time as a coach with the team in a warm up is limited.
Crab walks with a resistance band are a great exercise to stimulate the gluteal muscles. Side to side walking with toes internally rotated stimulate the glute medius fibers while walking forwards and backwards help stimulate the glute max fibers. This group is essential for increased speed and performance in most field based athletes, while reducing the risk of injury particularly the hamstring group.
M - Mobility in the form of joint mobility where necessary and muscle stretching through movement appears to be the warm up of choice. Many researchers have highlighted the negative implications for static, ballistic and PNF stretching techniques to name a few prior to any match / event. In fact static stretching has been shown to blunt and limit subsequent performance (Hill et al, 2017). Samson et al 2012, McCrary et al 2015 both claim performance is enhanced when dynamic type stretching is used in the warm-up.
A simple joint by joint approach is best. For example we require good mobility in ankle, hip, Thoracic spine, shoulder (stability too) and wrist joints. Conversely we require good stability around the foot, knees, lumbar spine, cervical (neck) spine shoulders (some mobility too) and our elbows.
Foam rolling is a useful tool pre warm up to reduce muscle and tissue tone and stiffness. There are a number of studies pointing to its effectiveness in reducing muscle tension and actually increasing range of movement. Foam rolling is believed to stimulate the Golgi receptors through sustained pressure at a specific intensity, amount, and duration to produce a reduction in muscle and tissue tone. Hou and colleagues (2002) claim ischemic compression from an object such as a foam roller at a high intensity (max pain tolerance) for a low duration (30 sec) or a low intensity (minimum pain threshold) for a longer duration (90 sec) significantly reduced pain and trigger point sensitivity.
Foam Rolling techniques
P – Potentiation refers to an increase in performance during subsequent muscle performance following a preload stimulus (Kilduff et al, 2007). The key is getting the balance correct between muscle fatigue and muscle potentiation.
According to Smith et al (2014) the aim of the post activation potentiation (PAP) is to enhance muscle performance as a consequence of a preloading stimulus. Smith et al (2014) claims this stimulus is generated via a maximal isometric contraction or heavy resistance.
Deciding on an activity that is practical is important. A simple but very effective PAP is 3 tuck jumps followed by a 7m sprint to enhance motor unit excitability increasing motor unit recruitment to ultimately improve performance.
The RAMP approach can ensure optimal preparation for performance but one should be vigilant of undue fatigue. Next blog will focus on Cooling Down. This is a phase that is often neglected especially in GAA.
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Chaouachi, A., Coutts, A., Wong, D., Roky, R., Mbazaa, A., Amri, M. and Chamari, K. (2009). Haematological, inflammatory, and immunological responses in elite judo athletes maintaining high training loads during Ramadan. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 34(5), pp.907-915.
Fradkin, A., Zazryn, T. and Smoliga, J. (2010). Effects of Warming-up on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(1), pp.140-148.
Fradkin, A., Finch, C. and Sherman, C. (2003). Warm-up attitudes and behaviours of amateur golfers. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 6(2), pp.210-215.
Fradkin,J Andrea & R Zazryn, Tsharni & Smoliga, James. (2009). Effects of Warming-up on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. 24. 140-8.
Hill, K., Robinson, K., Cuchna, J. and Hoch, M. (2017). Immediate Effects of Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching Programs Compared With Passive Stretching Programs for Hamstring Flexibility: A Critically Appraised Topic. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, 26(6), pp.567-572.
Hou CR, Tsai Lc, Cheng Kf, Chung Kc, Hong CZ. Immediate effects of various physical therapeutic modalities on cervical myofasical pain and trigger point sensitivity; Arch physMedicine and Rehabil. 2002 Oct; 83(10):1406-14
Kilduff, L., Bevan, H., Kingsley, M., Owen, N., Bennett, M., Bunce, P., Hore, A., Maw, J. and Cunningham, D. (2007). Postactivation Potentiation in Professional Rugby Players: Optimal Recovery. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 21(4), p.1134.
McCrary, J., Ackermann, B. and Halaki, M. (2015). A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49(14), pp.935-942.
Mills, M., Frank, B., Goto, S., Blackburn, T., Cates, S., Clark, M., … Padua, D. (2015). Effect of restricted hip flexor muscle length on hip extensor muscle activity and lower extremity biomechanics in college-aged female soccer players. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 10(7), 946–954.
Opar, D., Williams, M., Timmins, R., Hickey, J., Duhig, S. and Shield, A. (2015). Eccentric Hamstring Strength and Hamstring Injury Risk in Australian Footballers. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 47(4), pp.857-865.
Samson, M, Button, DC, Chaouachi, A, and Behm, DG. Effects of dynamic and static stretching within general and activity specific warm-up protocols. J Sports Sci Med 11: 279–285, 2012.
Smith, C., Hannon, J., McGladrey, B., Shultz, B., Eisenman, P. and Lyons, B. (2014). The effects of a postactivation potentiation warm-up on subsequent sprint performance. Human Movement, 15(1).