Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Warm Up Routine

This is my usual five minute warm up. I have reprinted the routine here although it is taken from a lengthier post from last year. It is based upon a warm up in 'Stretching Scientifically' and has served me well for nearly 20 years!

The Warm Up: Part A - Rotations

Start by standing with your legs shoulder-width apart. keep your head up and relax. You will now perform a set of rotations. The rotations should be at a 'medium pace' and exploit your full range of motion:

1) Straighten your arms out at 45 degrees from your body and rotate you hands/wrists clockwise five times. Then rotate them anticlockwise for five rotations. Repeat this step once (so you will have completed a total of 10 rotations in each direction).

2) Now move to the shoulders. Rotate them forwards five times, then backwards five times. Repeat this step once (so you will have completed a total of 10 rotations in each direction).

3) Rotate your chin (not your head), in a clockwise direction five times, then rotate it anticlockwise five times. Repeat this step once (so you will have completed a total of 10 rotations in each direction).

4) Rotate your pelvis clockwise five times, then anticlockwise five times. Repeat this step once (so you will have completed a total of 10 rotations in each direction). When performing these rotations, imagine you are using a Hula Hoop. Try to keep your torso upright and your upper legs still, accentuating movement in the pelvis alone.

5) Now move down to your knees. Bend them slightly and put your hands on your knees (in a 1950's shang-a-lang 'stylee'). Rotate your knees five times clockwise and then five times anticlockwise. Repeat this step once (so again, you will have completed a total of 10 rotations in each direction).

The Warm Up: Part B - Swings

Stand upright. You arms should be relaxed and hanging down by your side. For each activity perform 1-3 sets each of about 10 reps:

1) Front arm-swings; Imagine you are marching like a soldier. Your arms swing back and forth in a vertical plane. This is exactly the action you perform for front arm-swings (but keep your feet still). The swings should take your arms as far back as they go but rather than wildly 'throwing' your arms back, try to 'lead' them. With each swing, try to push for a greater range of motion.

2) Side arm-swings; Hold your arms out in front of you at shoulder height. Swing your arms back and as wide as possible behind you, and then bring them forwards in front of you. Vary the angles between the arm and the body and use a different 'plane' for each swing (think of 'semaphore'). Again, the swings should not be wild, you should 'lead' your limbs. With each swing you should aim to push your arms further back behind you.

3) Front leg swings; In this exercise, you will be using your hand as a target to kick to. Stand upright and hold your left arm out in front of you (imagine you are holding a dog on a lead). Now swing your left leg up until it touches your hand and then lower it again.

You MUST start well within your comfortable range of motion with this exercise. With each subsequent swing, raise your hand slightly - to give you a higher target to kick to. As a rough guide, your swings should be just over half your maximum range of motion when you are half way through the total number of kicks you intend to perform. Repeat for the right leg.

4) Side leg swings; As above, in this exercise, you will be using your hand as a target to kick to. Stand upright and hold your left arm out to the side. Now swing your left leg out to the side until it touches your hand and then lower it again.

Again, you MUST start well within your comfortable range of motion with this exercise. With each subsequent swing, raise your hand slightly - to give you a higher target to kick to. As a rough guide, your swings should be just over half your maximum range of motion when you are half way through the total number of kicks you intend to perform. Repeat for the right leg.

5) Rear leg swings; Bend over and rest your hands upon the back of a chair or stool. The height of the support is not too important. Now swing your left leg out behind you, taking care not to turn your torso (i.e. keep your pelvis forward facing).

Again, you MUST start well within your comfortable range of motion with this exercise. With each subsequent swing, try to lead your leg higher and higher. As a rough guide, your swings should be just over half your maximum range of motion when you are half way through the total number of kicks you intend to perform.

Problems

There are normally three problems people find with this warm up:

1) If you reach a plateau at a non-maximal range of motion in your warm up, it means you are pushing too far too soon in the warm up. Aim for initial swinging ranges well within your comfort zone. Your maximal range should be reached only on your final swing or two.

2) If you achieve maximal range of motion well within your warm up (but after one set of about 10 reps), then simply cut back on sets. Once maximal range is reached your muscles should be locked and loaded for action.

3) 'Tweaking' is a (potential) injury. It means that you are swinging your limbs too wildly. Slow down the swings.

Finally.... As you progress, you will be able to drop sets from this warm up. With time you should be able to get to your full range of motion from about 10 swings of your limbs. The whole routine should take about 5 minutes. Conversely, do not worry about adding a few more rotations or swings to any particular step if you feel stiff.

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