Personal Warm-up and Cool down for Injury Prevention

The way stretching is performed in a warm-up and cool down has changed in recent years.  Static stretches are now best used in the cool down and dynamic (using movement) are best used in the warm-up. I would like to add mobilisation for joints to the warm-up and make stretches specific to your body, in both the warm-up and cool down, to help prevent injuries or to manage them

Everyone’s body is out of ‘perfect’ alignment to some degree. The general view is that this Postural Model highlights these deviations and puts measures in place to help decrease the stresses and strains put on the muscular-skeletal (muscles and skeleton) system. Without correction these stresses and strains may lead to soreness and discomfort (back and neck especially), increased risk of injury and potentially arthritis in some joints.

If you are exercising  and just performing a general warm-up and cool down that doesn’t focus on where your body is ‘out of alignment’  you maybe increasing these risks. The more complicated the exercise (squats compared to chest press) or intense/ prolonged the exercise (running/sprinting compared to walking) the more thorough the warm-up should be because the stresses are greater on muscle and joints.

An example for myself  when I warm up for a run is:

Mobilisation for my right ankle followed by dynamic stretches for both ankle with more stretches on the right.

Mobilise the left side of my back, left hip joint with dynamic stretches for left and right hips but more stretches on the left.

Finish with dynamic stretches of my right hamstring (back of leg) and left side of my torso.

The first 5 mins of my run would be at a slower pace to get me warmed up for main run.

The cool down stretches are static developmental to improve range of motion for me but if you already have good range of motion I would argue that you only need to hold the stretch for 10-15 secs.

This is a specific routine for me to help stop  pain in my right knee and tightness in my left hip and lower back.

If you would like an accurate picture of your body alignment a full assessment can be made but in general ankles and lower back need to be mobilised. Calfs, back of thighs and/or hips should to be stretched. Chest, front of shoulders and neck tend to be tight, too. The cool down stretches, in my opinion, should only focus on the areas you warmed-up and/or are tight.

Having said all the above I would like to highlight that I did say the the Postural Model is the general view. Prof. Eyal Lederman has argued that the Postural Model is flawed and it is strength around a joint that will determine an injury and not posture.

I think there is truth in both views which means there is another reason to keep lifting those weights!

Personal Trainer, South London





Author: Chris Hall

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