Reasons to Warm Up

Research has supported this. If you don’t believe it do 10 push ups right now no stretching. Then stretch you pectoral muscles out with a static stretch for 30 seconds on each side then do push ups. You will feel what I’m talking about.

What is one to do then? The answer is dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is when one lightly increases the range of motion in a given joint and or joints through movement rather than staying in one place and holding the stretch.

When you engage in a static stretch you activate certain neuro receptors in the muscles that actually relax the muscle and cause it to lengthen, neither of which are beneficial to one who is about to go perform in an athletic setting. A relaxed lengthened muscle will not be able exude the same amount of power and strength as a muscle that has been properly warmed up.

Why is this? Think of your muscle as a rope tied to an object which in your body would be a bone. If the rope (your muscle) is long and there is some slack in it when you go to pull the rope (bone) there is going to be some delay in the response of pulling that object to you. Conversely if the rope is tight there will be more of a immediate reaction in the object coming towards you.

A article in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by Avery D. Faigenbaum1, 4, Mario Bellucci2, Angelo Bernieri3, Bart Bakker3, and Karlyn Hoorens highlights this. The studies results displayed that athletes who partook in a fairly intense routine of dynamic stretching exercises had better performance in a shuttle run test and in vertical jumping. Those who warmed up using a static stretching actually had a decline in there performance.

A static stretch can be useful at times such as in a cool down routine. It is also important to note that static stretching has only been found to increase flexibility in the given range of motion that the stretch is done in. This is not entirely beatifically in building triathlon specific flexibility as we need a full range of motion in many of our joints

I have found dynamic stretching to be very useful in my warm up routine in preparing my muscles and in building sports specific flexibility. Research out there all so supports this theme. A recent article I read from USA tennis highlighted then benefits of an effective dynamic warm up

Increases body temperature allowing muscles to work more efficiently.  Gets the heart and lungs ready for vigorous activity. Stretches muscles actively, preparing them for the forces experiences during competition.  Engrains proper movement patterns and the coordination needed in competition. Wakes up the nervous system and gets the brain talking with the muscles.