Proper Warm-Up for Injury Prevention
In the winter months, we often find ourselves focusing on steady feet to ensure we are safe while attempting to navigate icy and snowy conditions. While safety and stability are critical elements to safe exercise in the winter months, shifting our focus to ensure proper warm-up is also key.
Warmup exercises are a helpful component in preventing common injuries. In fact, improved flexibility, strength, stability and warm-up are key to decrease the risk of this knee injury along with many others.
A study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine concluded that neuromuscular control exercise programs appear to reduce the risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in female college soccer players. The beneficial neuromuscular warm-up exercise programs included in the study included stretching, strengthening, plyometrics, and agilities to address potential deficits in the strength and coordination of the stabilizing muscles around the knee joint.
Tips for Proper Warm-Up
Dynamic Mobility: Dynamic mobility is the body's ability to move in multiple directions safely. Dynamic mobility is closely related to flexibility and gently increases range of motion to reduce chance for injury. Try dynamic movements, such as arm circles and leg swings against a wall to ensure you are addressing both your upper and lower body.
Movement-Specific Preparation: You turn on your car before heading out for a drive. By the same logic, you need to turn on the parts of your brain that control motion in preparation for a workout. For example, bodyweight squats would make sense if you are doing front barbell squats, and light band presses or push-ups for a day your doing pressing motions like the bench press.
Increase Core Temperature: It's called a "warm-up" for good reason. Increasing blood flow and therefore muscle temperature makes muscles more pliable. Just like a rubber band, the more warm and pliable a muscle is, the more mobility it has. This leads to a decrease in potential muscle strain. Try walking, biking or any activity that begins to increase your heart rate to increase your core temperature.
Our staff at Iowa City Physical Therapy are happy to assist you in learning more about these neuromuscular warm-up exercises and about physical therapy treatment of ACL injuries.