A proper warm-up serves to prepare both the body and mind for the focal activities of the training session or competition. The process must gradually bring you from your current physio-mental state to one that matches the intensity, arousal, and pace needed for your next activity. It should be clear then, too, that Transition Protocols may be necessary when moving from one training unit to another or from one event to another in competition. Likewise, Cool-Down Protocols are essential to effectively return your body to its base state after a training session or competition so that proper recovery can commence.
An effective warm-up routine follows, in order, four phases:
1. Raise the body's core temperature (increase capillary blood flow);
2. Improve the mobility of the joints (increase range of motion);
3. Prepare the muscles for the dynamic needs of the activity (increase pliability); and
4. Prepare for the specific movement patterns of the focal activity.
A corresponding psychological transformation must accompany this physical process. Often simply focusing on the physical elements of the protocol and their demands will suffice to bring your mental state to that required for the target activity.
A note about static stretching:
Recent research is finding that static stretching (holding a stretch for several seconds) may actually be detrimental to subsequent athletic performance. This may, in part, be due to fatigue—as a muscle is stretched to near maximal length, a protection response is engaged and the muscle attempts to contract and therefore fights against the stretch for a time before it relaxes. For this reason, we will make only very limited use static stretches in our warm-up protocols.
Static stretching does seem to have a positive effect on the recovery mechanisms our bodies need after a workout. For that reason, it is important to include them in our post-workout flexibility routines.
We will use a fully dynamic warm-up routine for all event groups. Transition Protocols will also be dynamic in nature. Cool-Down routines will incorporate more static stretching towards the end of the routines as these have been found to promote recovery. As much as possible, we will perform common segments of the warm-up routines as a team and break into event groups to perform more event-specific elements.