Warm up exercises are essential to an athlete regardless of age, however the older and more muscular the player becomes, the more important. Exercises increase the temperature of the body, which in turn loosens the muscles making them more flexible, less prone to injury and more receptive to increased physical activity.
Some experts maintain warm ups should be performed before stretching exercises, but I’ll not quibble about sequence, only the importance of performing both before the beginning of strenuous physical activity, like playing Baseball.
Examples of Exercises:
Jump Rope: Use a fast twirl using the bounce in your feet and ankles, not your knees.
Ankle Bounces:Jump taking feet far apart, arms over head spread wide apart, bring legs together, arms brought down to side.
V-Jumps: Quickly jump with alternate foot and arm to the front, jumping switch arms and feet, alternating lead feet.
Walking Quad Stretch: Lift heel of foot to butt while pressing hips together, then rotate to other foot.
Warm up exercises - Jump Rope
Standing Hamstring: Using a chair or similar sturdy base, lift leg placing it on top of the base, holding onto the knee or ankle, depending on your flexibility, lean forward.
A warm up routine is an individual thing, although in team sports we tend to perform standard routines as a unit, however this may not totally be appropriate for your body make up, not fulfilling the intent.
Additional Warm Up Exercises
Toe and Heel Walks: This exercise warms up the rear (calves) and the front portion of the leg and ankles.
1. Rise as high on the balls of your feet as possible, keeping toes straight, take shorter quick steps walking about 20 feet.
2. Reverse direction, still high on your toes, and return the 20 feet with your Toes Pointed Out.
3. Reverse again, walk 20 feet high on the toes with your feet pointed Inward.
4. Repeat this entire procedure while standing on your Heels instead of your toes.
Skip: That quite correct … skipping is not just for kids, but an excellent warm up tool.
1. Skip forward and backwards 20 feet, raising your knees high and taking as long a stride as possible. Repeat this routine 6 times.
Hip Circles: This task warm up the larger muscles in your lower back and buttocks.
1. Start with your hands on your hips, feet together.
2. Lift one leg, at the hip, bent knee, straight out in front of you, pause then rotate the leg to your side, pause then lower leg to ground.
3. Reverse the procedure, bringing the leg out to the side, then forward. Repeat at least 5 times then switch legs. Repeat procedure at least 10 times.
The Lunge: This task stretches the Hip Flexor and warms up the buttocks and hips.
1. Lift leg straight up and hug the knee to your chest by wrapping your arms around the leg.
2. Release leg and lunge forward onto your foot, being careful to keep your knee directly over your toes. ( Limits chances of knee injury)
3. Bring leg back up until you’re in the standing position again.
4. Switch legs and repeat the exercise at least 10 times.
Warm up exercises - Inch Worm Sequence
Inch Worm: This exercise looks somewhat odd and difficult, but it’s not. It’s an excellent warm up for the calf and hamstring muscles.
1. Begin in a standard Push Up Position.
2. Slowly walk your feet towards your hands, bending at the middle. Heels off the floor is OK, but try to keep the legs as straight as possible.
3. Once your feet meet your hands, or as far as you can go without injury, walk your hands forward, while feet are still, until regaining the push up position. Repeat 10 times.
Running in Place: From a stationary position, begin running in place. Bring your knees high while pumping your arms vigorously. This will raise body temperature and increase heart rate and blood flow.
Yoga: Yes Yoga poses are an excellent form of warm up exercises which have been affective for thousands of years. Here are 5 easy, yet effective warm ups.
Eye Training: It’s actually quite ironic that athletes who most likely depend greatly on their eyesight, do not exercise the eyes, but the eyes are also muscles which need strengthen.
1. Holding your head still … move your eyes about in every direction possible for several minutes. This will make the eye muscles stronger and improve vision.
Neck Exercises: Many people retain stress in the neck muscles, which then goes throughout the body, making muscles stiff and non-flexible, which greatly increases the risk of injury.
1. Standing or sitting with a straight posture, head up looking forward.
A. Lower your head forward pausing to allow muscles to stretch and relax. Return head to original position.
Warm up exercises - Running In Place
C. Tilt head Backwards, pause, return.
D. Lean head to Right, pause, return.
E. Lower Head forward chin to chest, pause, return to original position and gently roll your head in circles, keeping the shoulders still.
Shoulder Lifts: This exercise will loosen neck, shoulder and upper back muscles.
Straight posture, head straight and forward.
1. Lift Right shoulder as high as possible while maintaining straight posture, pause, then relax.
2. Lift Left shoulder as high as possible, pause, then relax.
3. Lift Both shoulders as high as possible, pause, then relax.
Shoulder Stretches: This exercise loosens the shoulder, upper back, neck and chest muscles.
Kneeling, straight posture, holding a strap, such as a belt, rope, elastic band or other such aid, extend arms straight out in front of you.
Holding onto the strap and keeping your arms straight, lift your arms over your head and backwards as far as possible. Pause, then reverse arm movement return arms forward. Try to time your breathing to coincide with your arm movements, which should be smooth.
Cat Pose: Beneficial to back, shoulder and stomach muscles.
1. From the prone position, kneeling on knees and palm of hands, raise your back as high as possible, rounding it, pause, lower your body bending your back forward as you push your stomach towards the ground.
2. Repeat these movements, pause and relax.
These exercises may at first seem quite simplistic and perhaps not very helpful, but I assure you, you’ll change your mind after performing the routine.