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  • Jade Elkind

What Should I Do to Warm Up?

Updated: Aug 9, 2022


This is a question that I get asked often, and with the myriad of conflicting information out there, it’s no wonder that people are left confused!


The first thing people usually ask me is, “What stretches can I do before I (insert activity here)?”


I’m not sure where this whole focus on STRETCHING came from, but after spending some time looking through the literature, maybe we need to change our focus from STRETCHING to more of a dynamic (moving) warm up that incorporates some isometric holds.


For those of you who are unsure, dynamic stretching is where we are moving through a joints available range of motion and an isometric hold is a muscle contraction where you are not moving the joint.


Pojskić et al. showed that prolonged intermittent low-intensity isometric protocols (e.g. static squat) improved performance similar to dynamic stretching. This implies that such protocols for the warm-up session can be used as an alternative to dynamic stretching by increased motor neuron excitability.


Lima et al. showed less soreness in individuals who completed a downhill run (after performing isometric contractions) then those who did not do the contraction.


Ullman et al. showed that isometrics were more beneficial for the performance of running athletes when compared to those who did static (non-moving) stretches. As a matter of fact, static stretching had a negative effect on sprinting and jump height.


So what does this mean in practical terms?


1. Let’s think about what activity you’re going to do.

  • E.g. If you are a jiu jitsu athlete who is about to have your clothing folded with you still in them, then incorporate some dynamic warm up that will get your blood moving and your body, warm, as the movements mirror the different positions and movements that you do in jiu jitsu. Yes, shrimping does come to mind.

i. If your shoulders are stiff, slowly take them into the Americana (high-five) position without trying to force it.


ii. Work some trunk rotations and overhead reaching, especially if you’ve been sitting at a desk all day.


  • Perhaps you can even start doing some isometrics for the hips, since we use our hips A LOT while grappling (think: sprawling, squatting, triangles, lunge patterns, hip bumps).

  • How about isometrics for your trunk? The last I heard, you use your abs at least a couple of times while grappling (isometric planks, trunk rotations, extensions…), and don’t forget to breathe.

i. I could be wrong about using your abs. I guess it depends on if you just belly down and play starfish style like I have at times.

  • In my opinion, the warm up should not include flow rolling. When you are training with another individual, you do not have control over whether or not that person is going to torque your arm too much when your body is still cold.

2. Are you injured?

  • If you have an injury or condition that limits your range of motion, then don’t push that range of motion (duh).

  • This is when isometrics done in a pain-free range may come in handy.

3. What muscle groups are required of the activity?

  • This may be when a professional opinion is warranted, if you don’t know which muscles are active with different movements.

  • If I am running that day, I know what my ankles, quads, and hips are going to get worked over. In that case I may perform isometric bridges, knee extensions, or heel raises. I may also do some dynamic warm up consisting of BW squats or lunges with good technique, not to failure.

To be honest, there is no black and white or perfectly clear-cut way of performing the “perfect” warm up, but I do think that this is a decent start. It seems like static stretching prior to activity may not be the best way to go, especially for activities that require a lot of power and speed (e.g. sprinting or wrestling takedowns). I think that one of the most helpful things you can do is to GET YOUR BODY WARM before you start to lift, run, get on the mat, or get on the field. I mean, it is called a “WARM UP” after which you can do some isometrics and dynamic stretching/mobility work.


Thanks for reading, and good luck with clinching your goals!




References:


Lima LCR, Bassan NM, Cardozo AC, Gonçalves M, Greco CC, Denadai BS. Isometric pre-conditioning blunts exercise-induced muscle damage but does not attenuate changes in running economy following downhill running. Hum Mov Sci. 2018;60:1–9.


Pojskić H, Pagaduan JC, Babajić F, Užičanin E, Muratović M, Tomljanović M. Acute effects of prolonged intermittent low-intensity isometric warm-up schemes on jump, sprint, and agility performance in collegiate soccer players. Biol Sport. 2015;32(2):129-134. doi:10.5604/20831862.1140427:


Ullman ZJ, Fernandez MB, Klein M. Effects of Isometric Exercises versus Static Stretching in Warm-up Regimens for Running Sport Athletes: A Systematic Review. Int J Exerc Sci. 2021;14(6):1204-1218. Published 2021 Oct 1.


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