After going through a record setting winter in some areas, I think it is safe to say that we are all glad to finally have the chance to spend some time outside the house. The brisk spring weather brings us outdoor activities, as this becomes one of the many relaxing ways we can unwind. Being active is important, and nothing can drive a person more, than by being confined in a house all winter long. It’s great to get outside the house and take on your favorite sport; I encourage it. However, it is important to warm-up and cool-down properly as spring sports are in full swing once again.
Not everyone this winter played a sport, so it is important for our spring athletes to slowly transition into the sport, rather than jump right into it. Soccer, lacrosse, and baseball are some of the popular sports played during the spring time that involve much running and the use of muscles that may have remained dormant during the winter season. We all want our athletes to give us full effort at practice and in a game; unfortunately this has become the downfall for many when not easing into the sport and performing the proper warm-up and cool down exercises. The bones of our young athletes are still growing; making this a crucial point in their lives to stretch before playing and perform cool -own exercises to follow.
What does it mean to warm up and cool down?
Many sports doctors will agree, that the “warm up” should be a slower version of the movements performed during your sport. For example, in baseball it is important to stretch the entire body prior to playing while throwing in various aerobic exercises like walking lunges, high knees, and grapevines. Do not do any of these movements to the point of exhaustion as these are meant to be executed before performing your sport to ensure the proper warm-up technique. Following your performance comes the “cool down” method where the athlete can do light laps around the field at a joggers pace, and stretch the muscle as well.
Here are some common warm-up exercises:
- Arm circles
- Jumping Jacks
- Crab walk
- Duck walk
- Frog Jumps
The dynamic movements will get the body warmed up and ready for the sport you are about to take part in.
Here are some common cool-down exercises/methods:
- Any form of stretching
- Light jog
Around 30 million children and adolescents participate in athletics in the United States. More than 3.5 million kids under the age of 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries, along with another 2 million injuries buy high school athletes. Young athletes are more susceptible to injury because their bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments are still growing. The two types of injuries that our youth are susceptible to are overuse injuries, and acute injuries. Overuse injuries can happen when the body is brought to the point of exhaustion and has had no rest. It is wise to give the athletes the proper rest period and not overwork them as “playing through” an injury will not help the cause. Acute injuries are caused by sudden trauma to the body. Contusions, sprains, strains, and fractures are some of the injuries that will occur to athletes who do not perform warm-up/cool-down methods. Addressing the issue now will allow the young athlete to have a fulfilling season, without getting injured, and avoiding the neglect of playing the sport.
Youth athletes are not properly conditioned to jump right in to any sport; especially after the type of winter we had. Slowly making the transition can prove to be a lot better on the athlete’s body and reduce the risk of injury. Follow simple aerobic movements when warming up, followed by stretching and a light jog to cool down and bring the body back to a neutral state. Enjoy the spring and good luck to all who participate in athletics.