The purpose of a good warm up is:
To increase the muscle and body core temperature
To improve the blood flow circulation throughout the body to the working muscles and joints, making them ready for the physical activity
To improve the oxygen delivery which results in better fuel utilization by working muscles
To enable the muscles to contract and relax at the faster rate
Protecting he muscles and joints of any type of injures
Flexibility is the measure of the range of motion (ROM presents the degree of movement about the joints) during the passive or dynamic movement. The degree of flexibility has great impact on the athlete’s performance as it influences the functionality of the muscles and connective tissues, like ligaments and tendons.
The three types of stretching that I apply as a part of the warm up routine are:
Dynamic stretching is a type of flexibility exercise that is performed with movement. An athlete is using swinging or jumping movements to extend the range of motion (ROM) and flexibility (how far an athlete can reach, bend or turn by using velocity and momentum to achieve maximum range of motion). Dynamic stretching involves a controlled, soft jumping or swinging motion to move body parts to the limits of the range of motion. One of the main purposes of dynamic stretching is to prepare the body for activity or sport, which is why dynamic stretching is so important as a effective PART of a warm up routine.
Static stretching is performed by placing the body parts into a position where the muscle or group of muscles are stretched under tension. In an slow and cautious manner, the athlete stretches the muscles increasing slowly the tension in them. At the point when the muscles reach their limit of the range of motion, they are maintained at the same position. This enables muscles and tendons to lengthen. An athlete can keep this position in the time frame from 15 seconds to 5 minutes. Combining the elements of the static stretching at the upper body muscle groups with the core and lower body muscles activation to keep an athlete in the balanced position is the efficient way of the warm up routine.
Active Isolated (AI) Stretching
Active isolated (AI) presents contracting the antagonist (opposing muscle group) muscles to the targeted the opposite, stretching muscle. This allows the target muscles to optimally lengthen without triggering the protective stretch reflex. The stretch should be performed quickly and smoothly, holding the contraction for up to 2 seconds and then relaxing, repeating it 5 to 10 times. Without activating the targeted muscle group, the restoration of full range of motion and flexibility can be successfully achieved.
Dynamic versus static warm up
Dynamic warm up routine increases the body temperature to a higher extent then the static warm up.
It increases the blood flow to the muscles and joints and speeds up the transport of the oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, elevating the heart and respiratory rate making the athlete ready for the beginning of the practice session.
The importance of the dynamic type of warm up is that it’s a preventive measure against any type of muscle or joint strains that could occur in the early stage of practice. Implementing the dynamic warm up routine, an athlete can successfully mimic the tennis specific movements, movements patterns and apply the realistic speed of movements. This makes an athlete more prone to any unexpected sense of pain or injury at the beginning phase of the practice.
The two elements of the warm up on which I insist working with my junior players are:
1.) General warm up: The general warm up should consist of a light physical activity, like jogging or skipping the rope. It takes about five to ten minutes and it results in a light sweat. The role of the general warm up is to increase the blood flow to the muscles and joints and speeds up the transport of the oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, increasing the body temperature.
2.) Tennis specific warm up: The tennis players are specifically preparing their body for the demands of tennis, therefore the activities should reflect the type of movements and actions which are required for the tennis performance. This includes specific tennis movements and cognitive awareness of the body as whole (lower and upper body part coordination). During this phase of warm up, an athlete is dynamically and statically stretching the muscle groups, while keeping the right, then the left side of the body in the constantly state of balance. Athlete is moving frontally and laterally during this phase, being aware of the body stability and flexibility while moving in different directions. Combination of the dynamic stretching and balance with the accelerating and decelerating movements sideways is enabling the athletes to be physically ready for the specific tennis movement. Dynamic type of warm up is enabling the neuromuscular preparation of the athlete, making them physically and mentally prepared for the practice session.