As resilient as the human body is, it becomes apparent quite early on in life (typically your mid to late 20’s) that preparation time is crucial if you want to play your desired sport,
a) well, b) pain free, and c) for many years to come.
If you play sport intensely then the odd acute and chronic injury may occur from time to time. In saying that, there are many things we can do to minimise risk.
If you’ve got young children I’m sure you watch on with wonderment at the way they just bounce around and get up with such gusto. I notice my step daughter will knock out cart wheel after cart wheel before throwing herself onto monkey bars without any consideration for, well, anything… Sadly, as we become more sedentary and perhaps fear what people think of us instead of innocently just having fun and living for the moment (try it!) we start to hold back. Over time the holding back and moving less leads to stiffness and restriction.
I must note that some stiffness is positively good. If a large man had the shoulder laxity of a 6-year-old girl, then I’d fear for the shoulder socket in the event of having to hang off a cliff or even try some recreational climbing.
Our body will always try and protect us.
So; If you want to attempt a bicycle kick in your 40’s or a 300-yard drive in your 50’s then we may have to work on unlocking some joints and freeing up some extra movement.
Think of this TV ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1xW8DRxers Gone are the days of a static quad stretch and some deep heat!
How to warm up (in less than 10 minutes)
1. Single leg touches
The execution is simple (although if you struggle with balance it may take a while to find the sweetspot):
- Start with legs hip width apart
- Keep your supporting leg soft at the knee
- Hinge so that your working leg swings (under control) back
- Aim for your chest to be parallel to the ground with your back leg straight out behind (extending the straight line from your chest)
Aim for 10 reps on each leg. One round will do.
2. Shuttle runs with backward shuffle
Set up three cones. Have the first two cones quite close together (for example edge of pitch and 6-yard line), then 3rd cone further away.
Jog from cone 1 to 2, shuffle (jog backwards to cone 1), then sprint out to cone 3. Repeat these 5 times in total, building the intensity (so sprint 1 be sure to hold back (watch out for those Hamstrings! by sprint 5 you are maxing out!)
3. The Karaoke
The Karaoke drill (note the attached has some more advanced versions) –
This is a great exercise to wake up your central nervous system. Warm into it slowly and you’ll soon fine tune your coordination. It’ll also help with ankle strength, explosivity, plus get in some important trunk rotation.
Perform 3 sets of a set distance (for example half a width of pitch then change direction and back to the start line)
4. Reaction game
This is nice and simple and will get the competitive juices flowing before a game.
- Set a timer for 60 seconds
- Find a partner
- Face each other, about 1 metre away from each other
- On the go command, person ‘A’ begins moving (side shuffles, 360 turns, shuffling backwards, right hand to floor etc…)
- Person ‘B’ is a mirror. Imitate as best you can
- Keep it simple, keep it dynamic!
- Switch over and repeat
5. Game of tag
Break off into small groups (between 4-6)
Set the timer for 60 seconds, rest 30, repeat.
On the repeat try reducing your ‘playing area’, thus people have to be more cat like in their reflexes!
Ok you’re now good to go!
Post-game, be it whilst on the pitch or back at home, I’d suggest you spend 10-15 mins on a foam roller + static stretching the key muscle groups (notably the Glutes, Quads, Hamstrings). Listen to your body, oh and consider an Epsom salt bath!
Please note that these athletic movements will serve as a great warm up for any game or racket sport. The goal is work all planes of motion, elevate the heart rate, and mimic positions that may unfold later on.
One final point, for all golfers wanting inspiration, take a look at Miguel Angel Jiminez and his crazy warm ups:
You’ll notice he raises some good points, notably the importance of a more thorough warm up as you get older.
So, get out there and be active. Just remember to listen to your body!