Warming Up with a Purpose

A lot of focus over the years has been put on what type of warm up a player should do prior to a game or workout. There are the people that believe that a dynamic warm up is the only thing you should do and there are people who believe in doing the traditional static stretches, such as the arm across the chest, tricep stretch overhead, standing hamstring stretch, quad stretch, etc. 

It's interesting because if you were to ask why people do one or the other you will get a variety of answers from it makes me feel more explosive, to it makes me feel loose. Most of the answers are rather vague. 

In order to decide which type of stretching to do I think we need to ask ourselves, what is the goal? What are we trying to achieve in our warm up? Is it you want to feel powerful, quick, loose, energized? 

I am going to touch on 3 things I personally am trying to achieve in my warm up and how it translates to the field.

  1. Release Tension
  2. Increased Range of Motion
  3. Feel Powerful/Explosive

Release Tension

When I get to the field or the gym the first thing I do is inspect my body. How am I feeling that day? Where am I feeling a little extra tight or sore? 

This is where the foam roll and lacrosse ball enter the picture. I start every single warm up with some form of self massage. I'll start with the foam roll and roll out my hamstrings, glutes, quads, IT bands, thoracic spine, etc. On certain days I will feel a little more sore in certain spots, so I will spend a little more time on those areas. 

Once I finish using the foam roll I then will use the lacrosse ball to dig a little deeper into spots and to roll out some of the tougher areas like the posterior shoulder. Examples you could use the ball for would be your traps, triceps, forearms, lats, glutes, calves, TFL, plantar fascia, etc. 

While in this stage of my warm up it is a good opportunity to start getting focused on what is ahead, whether it is a game, practice, or just workout session. Being mentally prepared is just as important as being physically prepared. 

Effectiveness of SMR:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26618062 

Increased Range of Motion

After I have completed my foam rolling and have good blood flow to the body I now shift my focus to static and mobility stretching. When I say static I'm not necessarily doing some of those stretches I listed above, but rather stretches that are going increase my range of motion in the areas I am going to use on the field. 

Why do I need to increase my range of motion? Whenever you have a decrease in range of motion, your body is going to try and resist movement past what is comfortable. If my hips have low ROM they are going to have a difficult time doing what is expected of them because it doesn't feel good. Increased range of motion is going to allow you to get in a better and more optimal position. Also, lack of ROM can lead to injury. Someone who is a great example of having great range of motion is Aroldis Chapman. He has great hip flexibility, thoracic spine mobility, and is able to create great layback in the arm because of the looseness in his arm, hips, and thoracic spine. Some examples of good stretches to increase ROM are kneeling t-spine rotation, bretzel, isometric stretches, wall slides, glute bridges, reach roll and lift, birddogs, hip ER/IR, etc.

Results of decreased ROM:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26609146 

Feel Powerful/Explosive

Now that I have released tension, I have increased my range of motion and I am mentally focused, it now is time to start moving with a dynamic warm up.

This is where things start to come together and are starting to get closer to emulating what I will be doing on the field. At this stage I will start by getting my lower half ready and then proceed to the upper body.

Some examples of lower body dynamic stretches would be lunges with overhead reach, spiderman, walking RDL, side shuffle, knee hugs, carioca etc.

Once I have completed the lower body warm up, now its time to get the arm ready to throw. I personally like to use the Jaeger Band series as the first thing I do for the upper body. After I complete that I proceed to use a shoulder tube to warm up different parts of the arm. The last thing I do for the upper body is a few weighted ball exercises. 

Positive effects of a dynamic warm up:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21881532 

Sample Warm Up:

Foam Roll- glutes, hamstrings, quads, IT bands, adductors, thoracic spine Lacrosse Ball Rollout- plantar fascia, calves, TFL, glutes, traps, lats, pecs, triceps, forearms

TRX Lat Stretch
Bretzel
Side Lying T-spine Rotation
Glute Bridge
Birddogs
Hip ER/IR Series
Wall Slides
Reach Roll and Lift

Quad Pull to OH Lunge
Walking Spiderman with T-spine Rotation
Walking RDL
Lateral Lunge with Overhead Reach
Cradle Walk
A Skips Forward/Backward
Side Shuffle with Arm Swing
Carioca 

Jaeger Band Series
Shoulder Tube
Half Kneeling Reverse Throws
Pivot Pick Offs
Roll Ins

In Conclusion

As you can see there are numerous ways to stretch and to get your body ready. I want to challenge you to think about what you are trying to accomplish with your warm up and decide what makes sense after that. My warm up is not the same every single day. My warm up is decided based on what I am doing that day. If it is the day after I pitch I am going to spend more time on the mobility side of things and really try to increase my ROM for recovery. Evaluate yourself everyday and see what needs to be done on that given day.

Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or are interested in doing remote training you can email me at:

jared.s.gaynor@gmail.com