Warm Up & Exciting the CNS

The Rack Athletic Performance Center

Warming up before a training session or sporting event is crucial. Not only does it reduce the risk of injury but it maximizes performance potential. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t skip warm up.

Injury Prevention & Optimal Sports Performance

When the muscles are cold and the CNS is not excited, power/speed/strength potential output will be considerably lower. A proper warm up increases muscle contractility, improves joint mobility and stability, increased pliability of soft tissue and in turn enables true athleticism.

Exciting the Central Nervous System (CNS) before a workout is crucial for several reasons that directly impact athletic performance and injury prevention:

  1. Improved Muscle Recruitment and Activation: Activating the CNS helps in recruiting more motor units within muscles. This means more muscle fibers are engaged, leading to greater force production and power output during exercises. This is particularly important for activities requiring explosive movements like sprinting, jumping, or lifting heavy weights.
  2. Enhanced Coordination and Proprioception: CNS activation improves the communication between the brain and muscles, enhancing coordination and proprioception (the body’s sense of its position in space). This allows athletes to perform movements more efficiently and with greater accuracy, reducing the risk of injury due to poor technique or imbalance.
  3. Increased Mental Focus and Readiness: CNS activation stimulates mental alertness and prepares the athlete mentally for the upcoming workout or competition. This heightened focus can improve reaction times and decision-making abilities, which are crucial in sports that require quick reflexes and strategic thinking.
  4. Prevention of Muscle Imbalances and Injuries: A properly activated CNS ensures that all necessary muscle groups are engaged and working synergistically. This balanced muscle activation helps prevent over-reliance on certain muscles, which can lead to imbalances and potential injuries over time.
  5. Optimized Performance: Overall, exciting the CNS optimizes an athlete’s readiness for physical exertion. It primes the body to perform at its peak potential, whether the goal is strength training, endurance exercises, or sports-specific skills.

Incorporating CNS activation techniques such as dynamic movements, plyometrics, or specific activation drills into the warm-up routine ensures that athletes are adequately prepared both physically and mentally for the demands of their training session or competition. This preparation not only enhances performance but also reduces the likelihood of injury, making it a crucial aspect of any effective workout regimen.

What does a “proper” warm up look like?

Pre-movement prep should aim to be anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending on the individuals’ specific biological needs as well as the specific movements that will follow. “Start slow and low”. Warm up movements should start off slow and progress to faster more explosive movements. Also, starting from the ground and moving up into a standing position. The 3-phase warm up includes RELEASE (SMR, foam rolling, soft tissue release), OPEN (full body dynamic movements, increasing ROM), and ANCHOR (speed drills, sled drags, plyometrics, med ball throws).

By incorporating these elements into your warm-up routine, you can effectively prepare your body for exercise, enhance performance, reduce the risk of injury, and maximize the benefits of your workout or sports activity. Adjust the duration and intensity of each component based on the specific requirements of your training session or competition.

Coach Miranda

The Rack Athletic Performance Center

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