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By Kelsie McGladrey, PT, DPT

A proper warm-up and stretching routine is essential to preventing injury during active play and can help improve performance. In cold weather, the warm-up becomes even more important. Many youth teams are moving away from a routine warm-up. This places your child at a higher risk for injury. It is important to add a short warm-up routine to your child’s schedule if they are not receiving one at their practices and events. There are different types of warm-ups and stretching routines that involve both static and dynamic activities.  Each individual can personalize their routine to match their physical level and capabilities.

  1. An individual’s routine should consist of an easy warm-up to loosen the muscles and get them ready for the event. This can consist of easy walking, jogging, or full body movement activities.  This is an easy way to start too ease into your routine and gets the heart rate to rise.
  2. As you are getting warmed up it is beneficial to add both static and dynamic stretches to prepare for your event. Static stretches should address the big muscles such as the quads, hamstrings, calf musculature, low back, and shoulder girdle. A low prolonged stretch will allow the muscles to relax, lengthen and be ready for activity.
  3. A dynamic routine should also be included. This consists of an active stretches. This could include: lunges, high knees, kickbacks, arm circles, and trunk twist. Dynamic stretches should be performed in a slow controlled motion to allow the muscles to lengthen and contract in preparation for the higher level activities during their event or game.

    Ben_Kerckx / Pixabay

This routine does not have to be a long activity. It can be set up to be a concise warm-up individualized for your child’s event. It is important that the stretches are not rushed and are performed with proper form. Proper form is essential to prepare the muscles for the strenuous activity and allow your child to use their muscles in the most efficient manner.

At the end of the game or event, do not forget to add in a short cool-down period. If your child’s event/sport consists of high activity level the will benefit from a short walk to allow their muscles cool down. Following the cool down walk, a short routine consisting of large muscle stretches will help prevent injury and soreness.

Talk to your physical therapist to develop a warm up and cool down individualize for your child.