Why do I need to warm up? A common question I get asked in my coaching sessions. Particularly for kids, warming up is seen as a chore and something that is just required at the start of training. We don’t often learn from a young age why we should warm up and even more importantly, how do we warm up? Hopefully the rest of this blog will give you an idea of how to warm up and why it could be the difference between you winning and losing a match.
A warm-up serves two main purposes: to enhance performance and help reduce the risk of injury. Therefore, we can consider a warm-up both physical and mental. Touching on the biology side of how we warm up, when we are resting our capillaries (the smallest blood vessel in our body that surrounds our muscles) are mostly closed allowing only 15-20% of blood to reach our muscles. However, as we start to exercise our capillaries open allowing blood flow to increase to around 75%. This coupled with an increase in body temperature lets our body use more Oxygen. By having more Oxygen and blood going to our working muscles means a better performance.
Reducing the risk of injury is essential for all players, whether you’re going for a casual hit or training for the Olympics. As our muscles warm-up they become more elastic, this means that they can stretch further and can endure more force. If we go straight into a match without warming up our muscles would struggle to endure the high physical demands of the match. Therefore, we must warm them up slowly, gradually increasing the force and intensity as we go.
How do we warm up?
The RAMPS protocol is a great tool to use to build your own warm up and is something I use with my players.
R– Raise, firstly you need to raise our heart rate and body temperature. This helps get blood and Oxygen to our working muscles. You can do this by lightly jogging around the court, slowly increasing the speed each lap. If you prefer, you can try skipping with a rope.
A– Activate, now you need to activate the muscles you are going to use. This can be done by using similar movement patterns used in a game but at a lower intensity. For example: chasses, high knees and hip twists.
M– Mobilise, next you need to mobilise the joints. A lot of force goes through your joints when you play, so you need to prepare them to do so. This can be done through dynamic stretching. In my opinion lunges are a must have in a warm-up. Our knees go through a lot of stress in a match and lunges can help prepare them for it.
P– Potentiate, now you can start adding a higher stimulus to your warm-up. Since badminton involves a lot of fast movements and jumping you must prepare your body for that intensity. Squat jumps and sprints are a great way to do so.
S– Specific, finally finish off with some specific exercises for Badminton. Shadow is a great way to do so as it involves match like movements just at a selected intensity. A knock up is another way to finish up your warm-up. Start with some soft pushes at the net to slowly warm your arms and shoulders up before getting into so harder hitting afterwards.
Hopefully this has given you an idea of why we must warm up and how to do so. From here you should go and design your own warm up. Everyone is unique and so should your warm-up. Find what is right for you so you are fully prepared next time you step onto court. It might just be the difference between you winning and losing.