• Karla Wolford

Considerations for a Master's Athlete: the warm up

We are just going to start with this… the older you are, the longer it will take you and should take you to warm up before intense physical activity. Period.

True story, I once worked with a young aspiring MLB player who had been dealing with hamstring and other injury issues. He had never learned the importance of a great warm up. We helped to heal and rehabilitate his body and before we sent him off to spring training I had a long, hard discussion with him about taking care of his body. I mentioned that he was very lucky these injuries were coming when he is 24, because if he was 27 they would have written him off. He had done a lot of work on his body but started to slip on his work in the weeks leading up to Spring training because he had been feeling good. So here was my “ah-ha” moment with him. I asked him, “Do you know those old guys on your team that show up an hour before everyone else just to get moving and get their bodies prepared for practice or a game?”. He looked at me and chuckled and replied that he knew who I was talking about. I let that thought sink in for a moment before I said, “Do you know why those guys are so old and are still playing in the Major Leagues?”. Boom. It sank in. Those guys were still playing in the Major leagues because they did the work day in and day out to take care of their bodies, to come an hour earlier than everyone else to properly warm up. This patient made the Major leagues that year and has been starting ever since.

Moral of the story, if you want your body to work well beyond it’s so-called “prime”, you must listen to it, give it love, and properly warm it up!

Here are some things to consider when warming up.

  1. You may need to show up earlier than everyone else because you might need longer to prime… and pay attention to your body’s range of motion

  2. Spend some time getting your heart rate up. Jumping straight to the red zone is not a great way to show your body some love. Slowly increase your heart rate and body temperature.

  3. Flexibility- or what you think of as stretching. Although it is not recommended to do a lot of prolonged (greater than 2 minute per body part) static stretching before you workout, it is good to get some general stretching and range of motion in. Pay attention to how your body FEELS while you do this. You may need to spend some extra time on certain body parts.

  4. Mobility. What is it? Your ability to move your body through space by yourself. If you can’t move into a low squat with your own body weight and are relying on the weight of an outside weight, you have some mobility work to do

  5. Dynamic movement. Once your heart rate is up and you have some motion in your joints, you can add in that dynamic movement. For example, starting to do some movement prep that is going to gear you up for your intense workout.

  6. Movement specific warm up- before you head into that intense workout, you want to consider doing those same movements with building in weight or intensity before you get to the actual workout. This will allow your body to know what you will be asking of it.

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