WRITTEN BY ERIN MCCUTCHEON | ACADEMY OF LIONS COACH
A proper warm up prepares you physiologically and psychologically for action and reduces the chance of injury occurring. Give yourself enough time to warm up all joints and muscles. Don't forget the small parts, we function best as a whole unit. It's all connected. Time is tight sometimes in the classes so come in a few minutes early to move around. A good warm up should take about 15 minutes. This should be part of your daily routine even if it's a rest day.
Start with full body joint mobility. Work from your toes all the way to your neck, give each area some rotations. We tend to skip over areas we think we're not using but it's all important. (Think about the connection of your ankles and your squat!) Work through your toes, ankles, knees, hips, lumbar and thoracic spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers and your cervical spine. Roll out on a foam roller to loosen up that sticky fascia. Then move onto some slow easy skips, rowing or running to increase circulation bringing blood flow to your muscles, activating your nervous system and preparing you for mobility.
Next is upper body dynamic mobility and muscle activation. It's all written on the board: pull ups, push ups, ring dips, internal and external rotation of your GH. I like splitting up the dynamic movements into upper and lower. Between the two, take three or four minutes to get your heart rate going and get a little sweaty. Now onto lower body dynamics: lunges, squats, calf raises, back extensions, bird dogs, clam shells. If you feel you have to stretch before your workout do dynamic stretching. This is your leg swings, arm swings, shoulder rotations, duck walks. Leave the static stretching for the cool down.
A cool down is just as important as your warm up. It returns your body to a state of rest and essential for muscle repair and recovery and can help lessen the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) the next day. Don't just stop when you've finished your workout. You want to keep moving (this can be walking, slow jog, slow skips) till your breathing is under control. Once your heart rate has returned to a state of rest you start your stretching and rolling. Just like your warm up, don't just stretch the muscles you just worked. Give yourself a full body stretch especially those large muscle groups. Spend some time on the foam roller or a lacrosse ball. Get into your favourite yoga poses. Book in for a massage. Have a hot epsom salt bath or go for a float. Don't forget to hydrate and refuel.