If you’re anything like myself or the millions of British Columbians who were active in sports prior to the pandemic, you’re relieved to hear that adult sports are back.
In the month or so since adult sports have returned, one thing I have noticed as a health practitioner is the uptick in sports related injuries. I do not mean traumatic ACL tears or concussions, I am referring to pulled muscles and rolled ankles. Unlike most traumatic injuries that happen in a split second, many of these less severe injuries can be avoided with a proper pre-game warm-up/stretching routine.
To start, it is always important to get our cardiovascular system going and get the blood flowing. For those of us participating in outdoor sports such as soccer, rugby or softball, this can be as simple as taking a jog around the field to get the heart rate up. Now that we have the blood pumping, it is time to be a little more sport specific by doing some dynamic stretching.
As opposed to traditional static stretching where we hold a particular stretch for an undetermined amount of time, dynamic stretching involves actively moving within a joint or muscles’ full range of motion. A good example of this would be replacing a static hamstring stretch with leg swings. In a leg swing, we stabilize ourselves by holding onto a post or wall while swinging our leg back and forth through flexion and extension. Not only are we stretching both our hamstring and quadricep muscles, but we are also warming up our hip joints.
Another great example of a dynamic stretch warm-up would be getting your arm loose for softball. Simply pass the ball back and forth with a partner, slowly increasing your distance from one another and increasing the force by which the ball is thrown with. This way, our shoulder and rotator cuff muscles are all warm and ready to go when you catch that fly ball to centre field and have to make a throw to 2nd base.
So next time you go to step onto the pitch, take that extra 5 minutes to make certain you are warmed up and your body is ready to compete. Otherwise, we might be seeing you sooner than expected.