As a follow up to last week’s post about stretching here is more on dynamic warm-ups. As adult ice skaters I know it’s hard enough to fit practice times into our very full lives but once you get into the habit, a decent warm-up shouldn’t add much more than 15 minutes to your practice. The good news is that you will be able to max out your time on the ice and ultimately prevent injury.
A dynamic warm-up is a 10 or more minutes of activity that prepares athletes physically and mentally for practice or competition. Adult figure skaters should do dynamic warm-ups before each practice or competition to both improve performance and reduce the risk of injury.
This type of warm-up has many advantages over traditional static stretching:
Increase heart rate more effectively.
Increase muscle temperature.
Improve force generating capacity.
Train neural pathway used specifically for figure skating.
Provide the working muscles with energy from the energy systems used during figure skating.
Assist with mental preparation.
Reduce risk of injury.
An effective dynamic warm-up has three components:
Active exercise to gradually raise the heart rate, muscle temperature and increase the joint range of motion.
Dynamic stretching and body awareness during movements requiring a large range of motion help improve balance and develop body control.
Sport specific drills to prepare you mentally and physically to skate.
Key points to remember are: an effective warm-up uses the same muscle groups as your sport and uses the same energy systems as your sport. Ice skating requires short intense bursts of activity, compared to long distance running therefore warm up should have intense bouts of activity interspersed with rest breaks.
An effective warm–up prepares you to figure skate but it does not cause fatigue.
Finally there are three variables that determine the effectiveness of the warm up:
Intensity of the warm-up activities.
Duration of the warm up.
Length of time between the end of warm up and participation in the event.
If you alter one of these three you must adjust the other two to produce the same results. For example if you will be skating immediately after the warm up, it’s doesn’t need to be too long. If you are warming up for a competition it may need to be a little more intense since you will not have the benefit of more than 3-6 minutes on the ice before having to skate.
Next week I’ll give some specific activities you can do to create a good dynamic warm-up.
Do you include a dynamic warm-up when you train? Do you find the older you get, the longer it takes to get warmed up? Comment and share!