Cos we're warming on up

Incase you wondered, you should read the title of this post like you were singing "Moving on up" by M People. Now that's cleared up, let's crack on.

From what I’ve seen in the performing arts sector, a great deal of progress could be made in the seemingly straight forward area of your warm up. There is definitely a fixation on range of motion, and not feeling “tight” that gives the performer a sense of freedom in their movement which I don’t feel is without merit… I’d just like to suggest something slightly different to add to your thought processes.

 

A warm up thought process, or protocol, widely used in professional sports is referred to as the RAMP protocol. This protocol for warming up touches on 4 distinct types of exercises or movements, all used for slightly different aspects of performance which can help reduce your risk of acute injury, or developing an overuse injury as well as priming your neuromusculoskeletal system of explosive work, which will enhance your application of strength and power, and therefore enhance your performance.

 

Some of this I’m sure you will already do, but there may be a couple of nuggets for you to take away.

 

Raise

The initial phase of the warm up which is aimed at RAISING your heart rate, and gaining all the benefits from that. Increased circulation, and blood flow to muscles, increased temperature which helps with neural firing, the list is long.

 

Activate

Phase 2 of the warm up involves the ACTIVATION of specific muscles, these can involve complex movement patterns or can be as simple as targeting specific muscles with simple exercises like the lateral hip and some crab walks. I like to target the load absorbing muscles in this section, and specifically those that decelerate limbs or the trunk whilst accepting load.

 

ACTIVATE An example of a simple abdominal and hip flexor activation exercise

Mobilise

This is the part of the warm up where much more time is spent by performers, usually involving static stretching and/or foam rolling areas where tightness is felt. This area can often be improved with some dynamic mobility based exercises, which explore control of the limbs or trunk at great degrees of movement.

MOBILISE An example of a simple hip mobility exercise

 

Potentiation

This is an area that may be missed entirely, it’s the last thing you do before going into the session and is primarily targeting fast, compound movements which involve maximal power. This helps to prime your nervous system for lightening quick messaging, helping you to turn on your muscles quicker during your session. It’s important to go through the steps above to ensure your tissues are ready to be exposed to high degrees of force to help optimise its use.

POTENTIATE A countermovement jump is an effective potentiating exercise for the lower limb

 

This may sound like a lot of work, but once a specific fluid process is well practiced you’d be surprised just how little time this very effective method of warming up can take. It’s also worth mentioning that a warmup is set up to prime you for applying force, and not to fatigue you. I’ve seen a great deal of athletes and performers with long lists of “activation”exercises which haven’t been revised for some time, and they end up putting lots of volume of work in specific areas of your body… Potentially fatiguing the areas you only want to wake up.

 

Warm ups are so often taken for granted, or just thought of as a formality, as an ageing ex-athlete I would advise anyone to take a bit more care than I used to when I competed. As it would have potentially prevented some of the pains and injuries I sustained, but also it would have made a huge difference in mindset around warming up and creating a solid habit, early that would then be difficult to break.

 

Thanks for reading

Barry

@barry.sigrist