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Teen athletes stretching on a staircase

Hot Tips for a Proper Warm-Up

By: Courtney Butler, Exercise Specialist, CHKD Sports Medicine

A warm-up is like the breakfast part of a workout. It’s a way to wake up the body and get more blood flowing to the muscles. Just like breakfast, it is important that a warm-up has key components to ensure that the body is ready for specific movements in a workout. At CHKD, our exercise specialists focus on two main body preparations – pillar prep and movement prep.

Pillar Prep

In this part of the warm-up, athletes prepare the muscles that are connected to the torso, which is considered the pillar of the body.

  • The first step is myofascial release. Athletes may use a foam roller or lacrosse ball to roll out their muscles. After foam rolling, the body is ready for a mobilization piece, such as the Brettzel. The Brettzel is a movement that helps increase range of motion in the hips and thoracic spine.
  • The next step involves activating the core muscles. Athletes can do this by performing a plank.

Movement Prep

To begin movement prep, athletes should start with a general warm-up that includes jogging and other exercises to increase blood flow, such as high knees, butt kicks, and side shuffles.

Once the body has warmed up, it’s time to activate the gluteus muscles. For glute activation, athletes can put one resistance band above the knees and a second band around the ankles. Begin with standing clamshells in a base or game ready position. Following clamshells, athletes can take 10 steps forward and then backwards for a linear-movement focus or they can take 10 steps to the right and left for a lateral-movement focus.

The third piece to movement prep is muscle elongation. During muscle elongation, athletes dynamically stretch the muscles that will be used during the workout.

The last two focus points are muscle integration and muscle activation. Muscle integration is incorporating the movements that will be done later in the workout, for instance marching and skipping. Finally, neural activation is used to activate the central nervous system by disassociating an athlete’s lower body from the upper body, for example, fast feet with a slow arm pump.

Learn more about fitness and sports performance training at CHKD.

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About CHKD Sports Medicine

About CHKD Sports Medicine  CHKD's sports medicine program offers the most comprehensive care for your young athlete. From diagnosis and treatment to customized rehabilitation plans, we specialize in physical therapy and injury prevention programs for active children and teens. Our team is composed of pediatric orthopedic surgeons, sports medicine specialists, physician assistants, certified athletic trainers and pediatric sports medicine physical therapists.