Before we dive to far into today’s Mobility Monday, I wanted to give you a brief glimpse into my upbringing as an athlete. In college, I, along with others were fortunate to train with our track team. During our time with them our assistant coach asked how come you do not stretch before you begin training. Coach Bingham replied “Do you ever see little kids stretching before they go play kick the can?” Not really sure what he was getting at that but for some reason that statement resonated with me. Keep in mind this was back in 2007 and before kids found themselves more likely sit and play video games, watch t.v. or sit and stare at their phone for hours on end. Regardless, I decided to do my senior thesis on topic similar to Coach Bingham’s infamous words leaving me to ask the question, “What should our warm-up really entail?”
I remember growing up and playing sports and we always stretched and then played. That seemed to be a common occurrence throughout all childhood sports (and unfortunately for some this prolonged into their high school years!). But that isn’t the coaches fault because for the longest time stretching was the predecessor to any physical activity. I mean hell I remember being warned by coaches that if I didn’t start stretching I would be pull a muscle. It was with such conviction…. they were convinced with 100% certainty that this would happen. Truly a direct correlation, a cause and effect if you will…… “if you do not stretch before hand you WILL pull a muscle.”
Why we WARM-UP and not Static Stretch
Warming up activates enzymes responsible for the chemical reactions that occur during movement. If not warmed up properly your body’s function will decrease. Side note, ever wonder why the third or fourth set is easier than the first? OR the second third round is better than the first? In addition to prepping the body for functional activities, a warm-up routine helps the body deliver more oxygen to the muscles. Hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen to the working muscles, and it’s able to do the job more effectively when the muscles are warm. The higher body temp creates a positive pressure between the muscles and bloodstream, allowing more oxygen to go where it’s needed. This elevated temperature enhances the entire cardiovascular system by helping the arteries, veins and capillaries deliver nutrients and carry away waste products more expeditiously.
One of the real advantages of warming up that I think is often overlooked is that it benefits the nervous system. There are some studies out there that show a higher core temperature clears increases the bodies ability to send and receive nerve impulses. This is definitely important for everyone completing high-skill exercises such as olympic lifting and some gymnastic movements that are found in CROSSFIT!!!!!
Beyond the physiological advantages of warming up here are what some of the studies are suggesting
There are numerous studies dating all the way back to 1966 stating the clear disadvantages of static stretching before exercise! Majority of these studies actually states that stretching impedes the ability for runners to run quickly, jumpers to jump higher, and weightlifters to lift more weight!
DO I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION NOW?
NO? YES? MAYBE?
In a published article in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research titled “Acute effect of passive static stretching on lower-body strength in moderately trained men.” author JC Gergley saw an 8.36% decrease and 22.68% decrease in lower body stability. Conclusions were drawn from this relating the significant decrease due to a more compliant muscle tendon unit and/or an impaired neurologic function in the active musculature. If that wasn’t enough the study also found that strength was impaired due to joint stability! The article goes on to state that “intensive stretching such as lower body passive static stretching should be avoided before training.”
A Meta-Analytical Review from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports reviewed 106 studies finding that regardless of age, gender or fitness level the use of static stretching as the sole warm-up activity should be “avoided.”
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU BE DOING?
Our recommendation at Beartooth CrossFit is this…
Do an activity that elevates the overall body temperature. We like to prescribe 5 minutes of rowing, stationary bikes, running. Nothing complicated. Calisthenics are good, or it can something as simple as jump rope.
- We then like to run through a couple of rounds of core work combined with some dynamic or foam rolling (more on foam rolling next week) and plyometric work. With CrossFit’s emphasis on Core to extremity make sure our abs and back are primed and ready to go is a must!
- Lastly, we like to start light! Work with a PVC pipe or an appropriate barbell is a necessity. The lighter weights allow you to concentrate on your form and set up a tight bar path for when the weights get heavier, and they let the body get better prepared for the harder work just ahead.
Please keep in mind that the time frame in which we warm-up is based upon a number of factors. Weather, amount of sleep/rest the night before, how difficult that workout was yesterday and because BECKY some days just take longer than others (in my best Russ Herring voice)! A general rule of thumb is when you starting sweating and finding yourself short of breath you can move to the next step.