How to Warm Up Like A Pro by Raise The Bar Physiotherapy
Warm-ups are UNDER-RATED. As a physiotherapist that works in the sport setting I've seen all sorts of self administered warm up routines, and all kinds of misconceptions. Fortunately, strength and conditioning specialists have developed a framework that works very well and is applied at the highest level. The details of this framework are below but if you're short on time and want one KEY: RAISE THE BODY TEMPERATURE.
Research in injury prevention has evaluated different aspects of warm ups to see what the most important piece is, and after comparison to things like stretching and activation routines, the results were evident. Simply increasing the body temperature with general cardio had the best effect.
When it comes to warming up, particularly at the highest level of performance, you really look to optimize everything and tailor it. This means that each sport and individual will have a slightly different optimal routine. A good warm up will address speed, range of motion, reaction time, and strength specific to the athlete's demands. The RAMP protocol seems to cover this best. So what is it exactly?
R - Raise the body temperature: Straight forward. Get the heart rate up, the blood flowing, and warm up your tissues and joints. This can include a light-moderate jog, skipping, biking, etc...
A - Activate: Here we look to engage the important muscle groups in a relevant way to the task ahead. So in the case of soccer let's say, this may involve some quadriceps, hamstrings, calf, and gluteal activation drills. For example, you can't go wrong with bridges, lunges, heel raises, squats, and monster walks.
M - Mobilize: Again, you want it to be specific to the athlete, but here we hit the range of motion. To give you context, for a soccer player you may want to open up the hips so doing hip circumduction, leg swings, and hamstring dynamic floor sweeps (sweep the floor with one leg extended in front of you). But in contrast, a baseball player may look to work through more shoulder mobility and do shoulder circumduction.
P - Potentiate/Prepare: Here you want to get the muscles firing fast enough, and the brain ready to act fast enough for the task ahead. I usually include some fun games involving fast reaction speed, and important techniques or aspects of the game i.e. sprints, long passes, throws, etc...
This is a gross simplification of the concept, I urge you to read up on this framework. But I hope that it gives you an idea that it is not as simple as jogging or stretching, and it is also not "one-size-fits-all". If you have any questions feel free to ask: firstname.lastname@example.org