Study: Resistance training on neck pain

This study found positive results with strengthening exercises to reduce muscle tension and pain with office workers suffering with neck pain.

Lindegaard 2013

Working in the office you’re bound to suffer with neck pain at some stage. If poorly managed this can progressively become chronic. Not only can this impact your function, but interferes with your levels of concentration and performance at work. This then feeds into your mood and becomes a negative loop which is then difficult to break.

When treating a patient with chronic neck pain there’s a range of manual techniques that have strong evidence to support them. But in addition to hands-on therapy, exercises are provided to assist in the recovery. These could be in the form of stretches, postural setting or strengthening.

This study focused on strengthening exercises using a resistance band  (Theraband). Over a 10 week period they performed lateral raises with the resistance band once per day to the point of fatigue or up to 2 minutes. They found at the end of the 10 weeks through EMG testing the neck muscles were more relaxed and had reduced pain levels.

Original Abstract

Background: This study investigates the acute and longitudinal effects of resistance training on occupational muscle activity in office workers with chronic pain.

Methods: 30 female office workers with chronic neck and shoulder pain participated for 10 weeks in high-intensity elastic resistance training for 2 minutes per day (n = 15) or in control receiving weekly email-based information on general health (n = 15). Electromyography (EMG) from the splenius and upper trapezius was recorded during a normal workday.

Results: Adherence to training and control interventions were 86% and 89%, respectively. Comparedh with control, training increased isometric muscle strength 6% (P < 0.05) and decreased neck/shoulder pain intensity by 40% (P < 0.01). The frequency of periods with complete motor unit relaxation (EMG gaps) decreased acutely in the hours after training. By contrast, at 10-week follow-up, training increased average duration of EMG gaps by 71%, EMG gap frequency by 296% and percentage time below 0.5%, and 1.0% EMGmax by 578% and 242%, respectively, during the workday in m. splenius.

Conclusion: While resistance training acutely generates a more tense muscle activity pattern, the longitudinal changes are beneficial in terms of longer and more frequent periods of complete muscular relaxation and reduced pain.

Lidegaard M, et al. Effect of brief daily resistance training on occupational neck/shoulder muscle activity in office workers with chronic pain: randomized controlled trial. Biomed Res Int. 2013.

Hip Opener for Hinge Shapes

The hip hinge is an important movement in daily activities as well as in sports. Many people are unaware this movement exists and struggle with reaching their potential.

Many lifting injuries result from a lack of movement awareness and weakness of the posterior muscles. The hip hinge is a foundational movement for so many actions like deadlifts, squats, sprinting, jumping. Lacking an effective hip hinge is like racing a formula 1 car on flat tyres.

Developing a good hip hinge will improve the strength of the posterior chain. This includes muscles like the glutes, hamstrings and back extensors. The hinge movement is primarily coming from the hip. The goal is to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement, the hips start to bend with your butt moving backwards and minimal flexion in the knee. This will increase the tension on the hamstrings and glutes.

The majority of people find this pattern of movement unnatural, as it’s rarely practiced and in most cases, are quad dominant. This quad dominant pattern causes weight to be distributed anteriorly, which is fine with some activities, but most actions we need to be more engaged with our posterior chain.

hip hinge movements.jpg

 

Below are a series of stretches and strengthening exercises to help Improve your hip hinging abilities.

Weighted Hip Hinge

This exercises is a great way to warm up and encourage the hip back movement while fighting the resistance to maintain a neutral spine.

Banded Hip Distractions

These two movements are also great for warming up. Both encourage release of the hamstrings but also the band provides a traction force on the hip socket. This should allow the joint to move free’er and help you access more range in the joint.

Dynamic Hamstring stretch

This is a deeper stretch of the hamstrings. Having more flexibility here will help you hinge better at the hip which will off load the knees.

Jefferson Curl

This movement is a great way of developing movement segmentally and will help build strength when maintaining a stable spine. It’s important to note if you have a spinal injury to avoid this movement until you have gone through the appropriate phases of rehab.

Continue reading “Hip Opener for Hinge Shapes”

Do your hips get the green Light?

Functionally the hip has certain positions that create stability and power. We should be looking at accessing its full range to ensure the health of the joint.

Healthy joints make difficult movements easier

Just like the shoulder, the hip has an important role in allowing us to function in various positions. It’s also a ball and socket joint, with both joints acting as catalysts for power, stability and accuracy of its connecting limb.

Unlike the shoulder as you may already know, the hip is held within a deeper socket, but still has a multitude of muscles surrounding the joint, including its own rotator cuff. The hip also has a ligamentous capsule with fibres angling in different directions. Using the capsule the joint can wind up into some very strong and stable positions. Accessing these ranges of tension puts the joint into a safe place to absorb load.

Gray339

These high torque shapes held by the hip are our start and finish points of most movements of the lower limb. Most of the time we can function well within the realms of the inner movement. But if we struggle to start from these positions it becomes difficult to transition and finish in a safe end shape. The goal should be to have full physiological capacity.

In the hip, there are 3 shapes we should all be able to achieve.


  1. The first movement is the squat/hinge a combination of flexion and external rotation at the hip. This movement takes all the glory, it’s all of our squat movements, it’s dead lifting, it’s rowing and the list goes on.
  1. Next is the Lunge/run which is full extension of the hip with internal rotation. This could be the bottom of a split Jerk, in running it would be your trailing leg before leaving the ground.
  1. Pistol is the last movement which alludes a lot of people (including myself), requiring full hip flexion but also full ankle dorsiflexion.

While the squat/hinge position is the most common hip shape used. We should also feel competent at the other 2 positions. Over the next few weeks I’ll go through the 3 movements and provide some ideas to achieve full depths.

Redefining your “Normal”

Taking a look what could be limiting your physical potential to grow and redefine what you would class as “normal”.

You are braver than you believe,

stronger than you seem,

and smarter than you think.

~ Winnie the Pooh

YOUR PERCEPTION OF NORMAL COULD BE LIMITING YOUR GROWTH?

Our bodies are constantly adapting. I see people of all ages, from different backgrounds, each individual with their own experience of pain and weakness. Most have learned to live with this feeling and avoid certain movements through fear, apprehension or a lack of practice over time.

This restricted level of function has become their new norm.


My experience of this was quite recent. In preparation for a snowboarding trip to Mt Hutt I thought I’d get some practice in at the local indoor slope. After having not snowboarded for 2 years I was already feeling a level of anxiety knowing what was coming. Getting there I decided to have a few practice runs on the magic carpet (a beginners slope, relatively flat).

My first run went as expected, with a few falls, poor coordination of my feet, but this slowly improved. I was soon at the top of the slope back to my novice level of linking turns, still with a few falls.

At that point, I was then trying to push myself to go over small ramps, this lead to a return of anxiety. But once accepting that I can overcome this challenge and then achieve it my confidence only increased more.


For new Crossfitters the box jump can be quite a daunting obstacle. For some, it’s a movement that’s not been attempted for years. This isn’t their current norm and has been lost from their movement vocabulary. With appropriate scaling of this skill and positive reinforcement they are able to clear this milestone. Confidence quickly increases and it becomes a normal skill within their training.

Our bookends of normal function throughout life are expected to change with the onset of physical deficits. But when these restrictions are defined by lifestyle rather than capabilities our limitations are instead self-imposed.

Many people think that the body only adapts to the physical, without considering that psychological barriers could be the largest hurdle.

Thinking under the premise that “we can’t do something because we haven’t tried it” only sets us up for a limited version of ourselves. Try accepting that we are capable of doing more than we perceive, through patience of developing skills and strength. This will slowly help you define your new normal.

Sleep Deprivation and Injury Risk

Acute and chronic sleep deprivation both have negative results with athletic performance. It also poses a greater chance of injury.

Optimal sleep can help minimise athletic injury

Skaggs 2014

For most of us sleep is not taken too seriously. We forgo sleep for other priorities in our busy lives. As I previously posted about the effects of sleep on exercise.  This study demonstrates that a lack of sleep increases the chance of injury. While this studied sleep deprivation of adolescents it can be easily applied to the wider population.

Deprived sleep will lead to higher perceptions of effort and fatigue, impaired strength, endurance and accuracy. Gym go’ers to aspiring athletes should look at this aspect of their life more seriously to protect themselves.

For optimal recovery we should prioritise sleep as much as we do with other remedies like recovery drinks, stretching, ice baths and foam rolling. Tapping into the right amount of sleep will improve performance and recovery from injury.

Original Abstract

Background: Much attention has been given to the relationship between various training factors and athletic injuries, but no study has examined the impact of sleep deprivation on injury rates in young athletes. Information about sleep practices was gathered as part of a study designed to correlate various training practices with the risk of injury in adolescent athletes.

Methods: Informed consent for participation in an online survey of training practices and a review of injury records was obtained from 160 student athletes at a combined middle/high school (grades 7 to 12) and from their parents. Online surveys were completed by 112 adolescent athletes (70% completion rate), including 54 male and 58 female athletes with a mean age of 15 years (SD=1.5; range, 12 to 18 y). The students’ responses were then correlated with data obtained from a retrospective review of injury records maintained by the school’s athletic department.

Results: Multivariate analysis showed that hours of sleep per night and the grade in school were the best independent predictors of injury. Athletes who slept on average <8 hours per night were 1.7 times (95% confidence interval, 1.0-3.0; P=0.04) more likely to have had an injury compared with athletes who slept for ≥8 hours. For each additional grade in school, the athletes were 1.4 times more likely to have had an injury (95% confidence interval, 1.2-1.6; P<0.001).

Conclusion: Sleep deprivation and increasing grade in school appear to be associated with injuries in an adolescent athletic population. Encouraging young athletes to get optimal amounts of sleep may help protect them against athletic injuries.

Lets stop calling it tennis elbow

This injury affects more than just tennis players. Unlike its name the treatment for lateral elbow pain has advanced.

Lateral elbow pain is a regular complaint from athletes to manual workers, even office workers are exposed to the risks of these injuries. Sometimes this injury can be difficult to shake off without the necessary changes being made.

Why tennis elbow and what should we call it?

The diagnosis of “tennis elbow’ dates back to 1882 described as “lawn tennis arm”. While it effects up to 50% of tennis players throughout their careers there are many other activities other than tennis that cause this problem.

Lateral Elbow Tendinopathy (LET) is a more appropriate and clinical description of the injury. It encapsulates both a tendinitis (inflammation of the tendon) and tendinosis (micro-tears of the tendon).

With repetitive use of the arm, whether you’re doing a swing, cleaning a 60KG barbell, hammering together a fence or typing up endless reports. As the muscles in the forearm are being used continuously without rest the immune and metabolic bi-products cause micro tears in the tendon, leading to scarring, swelling and lateral elbow pain over time.

What can cause LET?

Forearm anatomny.jpg

The most common cause for LET is mentioned above, the small tearing of tendon inserting into the lateral epicondyle (outer elbow). Most commonly the tear occurs with the small muscle Extensor Carpi Radialus Brevis due to its weak insertion into the extensor tendon. But there are several other wrist extensors that can also overload this tendon complex.

For a long time, it was thought the sole problem was with the tendon and its connecting muscle. But the most recent model of LET suggests that as well as inadequate muscle power and endurance, there are also external factors influencing the pain.

These external factors could be…

  • Neck and mid back dysfunctions – Particularly the lower Cervical spine, the nerves that supply the lateral elbow have nerve roots at this level (C5-6). If nerve roots are irritated at these levels it can enhance the feeling of pain in its pathway down the arm, into the elbow. Following the Law of Denervation (This is a whole other blog!).
  • Posterior shoulder trigger points – Following that same C5-6 nerve root into the shoulder, it supplies posterior shoulder muscles. The development of trigger points in these muscles can irritate the nerve branches travelling down the arm causing enhanced pain into the elbow.
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – This is another condition that effects the nerves supplying the arm. The pressure places on these nerves can also cause pain in the elbow.

As you can see all these external factors add a nerve component to the elbow pain and should be cleared in assessment to ensure they’re not involved or treated appropriately.

How long it takes to recover?

Like all injuries, it will vary. Depending on the severity and how irritable you are this could be a few weeks to a few months. Following the guidance and management of the injury from physio you will have greater success than treating it on your own.

If symptoms persist, with no overall improvement over 12 weeks an ultrasound scan may be indicated, followed by an assessment from an orthopaedic specialist.

How do I prevent LET?

LET is a silent assassin, it’s one of these conditions that develops unknowingly (with scarring and tissue inflammation) until it’s too late (when you feel pain).

If you’re involved in sport or work that uses repetitive motion at the elbow, you’re already a candidate for this type of injury. Consider that your warning and take control.

Firstly, those forearm extensors need to be managed. Taking regular breaks to stretch and strengthen the wrists will help. Rolling the lacrosse ball into the forearm and back of the shoulder to reduce tightness. Consider your posture when sat at work or in the car, aim for your head to be over the shoulders.

For those in the gym, look at your wrist position. Most movements other than front rack and press positions, you want to maintain a neutral wrist. Look at your kettle bell swing or pull up, keeping the wrist close to neutral will reduce the force through the muscles of the forearm.

How can physio help?

Depending your presentation when assessed there are a range of treatments that could include…

  • Soft tissue manipulation of the wrist extensors, neck and shoulder
  • Joint mobilisations to the elbow, cervical and thoracic spine
  • Dry needling of forearm wrist flexors/extensors, deep neck extensors, posterior rotator cuff.
  • Mobilisations with movement for the elbow, neck and shoulder
  • Strapping of rigid or kinesio tape
  • Prescription of elbow brace/clasp
  • Specific exercises to strength and stretching exercises for the wrist, shoulder and cervical spine
  • Mobility exercises for thoracic and cervical spine

There are many treatment options available but to help with a quick recovery it’s important to provide a tailored treatment plan to meet your individual needs.

For an appointment, call on 095290990

The effect of food on your recovery

When feeling sore or recovering from injury there are other lifestyle factors to consider. Your diet may be slowing down your rate of recovery.

Your nutrition could be what tips the scales on your road to recovery

You’ve come in for treatment of your shoulder. It’s to be expected that it will consist of some manual therapy and education, followed by a home exercise routine to develop strength or improve mobility. But then there are other factors that can impact your recovery. Lifestyle factors such as stress levels, sleep and diet. While carefully rehabbing the injury it’s important to consider what foods your putting into your body.

There are many studies that show the relationship of improved nutrition on overall health outcomes with chronic diseases. More importantly it’s specific role in reducing inflammation.

Making some dietary and lifestyle changes may help with weight loss, feeling emotionally stronger, and reduce pain intensity. Nutrition could be that missing link to recovering from your injury and also help prevent injury.

Many of you may have already found the right nutritional balance in your life. For those that may still need to make changes here are some recommendations based on evidence. Theses are the common problems associated with pain that can be alleviated with diet.

1. Inflammation

Large amounts of inflammatory foods, including refined sugars and vegetable oils, populate the Western diet. Most clinical studies show that a traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in healthy fatty acids, fruits, vegetables and fiber, provides anti-inflammatory benefits. There are other diets with smaller evidence bases that have similar anti-inflam benefits such as paleo and Keto.

Studies have also shown for specific conditions. The Med-diet is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants that provides anti-inflammatory effects that benefit individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. Evidence shows an optimal diet can reduce inflammation and fight chronic diseases.

2. Obesity

One of the fastest growing problems across the western world. Obesity contributes to numerous chronic pain conditions. Multiple Studies show that weight loss is vital to overall pain rehabilitation.

3. Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the gradually degeneration of joint surfaces, one of the main causes of increased OA is obesity. Studies have shown that obesity is the most modifiable risk factor for knee OA. Pain levels of knee OA have been found to half when reducing 10% body weight.

One systematic review found scientific evidence to support some specific nutritional interventions–including omega 3 fatty acids–to relieve symptoms among patients with OA. Studies also show various nutrient deficiencies, including vitamins C and D as well as selenium, contribute to OA.

4. Autoimmune disease

Over 80 autoimmune disorders exist, including Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and type 1 diabetes. Genetic predisposition and environmental factors play major roles in the development of autoimmune diseases. But increasingly, researchers believe adverse dietary changes over the past 50 years. Including gluten intolerance, altered gut bacteria, and vitamin D deficiency contribute to an increased rate of autoimmune diseases.

Those main changes being a high-sugar, high-salt, processed-food heavy diet that paves the pathway for autoimmune diseases. Nutrient depleted diets only worsen this problem with a studies showing vitamin D, vitamin A, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and flavanol deficiencies contribute to autoimmune diseases.


Most patients I treat deal with inflammation in one way or another. But if you suffer from any of the other of the above issues, adjusting your nutrition could be the needle-mover to alleviate pains and helps your recovery.

This is only a recommendation for adjusting your diet if you think there could be something exacerbating an inflammatory response. For any major dietary changes seek the advice of a nutritionist.

Foods that fight inflammation

Anterior Knee Pain in CrossFit

Anterior knee pain is common in most sports. In CrossFit there is a lot of repetitive knee flexion, through full range. Look after your knees to prevent this condition.

Anterior knee pain or Patellofemoral pain is quite the common condition within sports. It affects up to 20% of active individuals (1). With CrossFit athletes, there’s no hiding from repetitive knee flexion. Whether you’re squatting, box jumping, running or doing pistols the load on your knee cap is being carefully balanced. If the load is too much it causes pain around the patella.

Symptoms

Patellofemoral pain usually is at its worst when bending the knee, running, jumping, climbing stairs, squatting or kneeling. It can make a noise when the knee bends and sometimes there’s swelling over the knee.

Potential causes of Anterior Knee Pain

Unfortunately for the knee cap, it’s stuck in a tug of war from forces in different directions. This suspends the knee cap as it tracks within the grooves of the knee.


  • Muscle imbalances: The Vastus Lateralus (outer quad) and Vastus Medialus Oblique (inner quad) are the forces from either side. This is one of the most common issues where your VL is overly tight, sometimes with trigger points. This causes a shift of the knee cap away from midline resulting in more pressure on surface of the patella.

A tightness of the quads muscle, particularly Rectus Femorus causes an upwards force on the patella. When the knee is bent under load this puts extra pressure on the surface of the knee cap.

  • Biomechanics: Our body moves as a functional unit and often the knee pain is a result of something more global. The knee sits between two other mobile joints, the hip and ankle. The ankle may be rolling in or weak Glutes are causing too much internal rotation of the leg. This changes the direction of force through the knee and patella.
  • Overuse: Repeated movements especially with a new movement pattern can put higher demands on tissue. If you’ve only just started doing CrossFit or doing high reps of pistols or box jumps you may feel some anterior knee pain.

Prevention and Self treatment

This word strikes fear into most Crossfitters – REST.

While it’s understandable you still want to train, there needs to be a compromise. We want to reduce the number of days training the initial few weeks to allow symptoms to subside. We also need to restrict the some of the deeper knee flexion movements and high impact activities.

We want to offload the force reaction on the patella when bending the knee. The more knee flexion the more force reaction. Deep squats might not be a good idea to start with when feeling anterior knee pain (see the table).

force.jpg

Activity Force % Body Weight
Walking 334 N 1/2 x BW
Bike 905 N 1.3 x BW
Stair Ascend 1760 N 2.5 x BW
Stair Descend 4000 N 5.7 x BW
Jogging 7.7 x BW
Squatting 6375 N 7.6 x BW
Jumping 20 x BW
Schindler (2011) (2)

If you’re feeling anterior knee pain you want to stick within a comfortable pain-free range. Try to understand that this condition needs to be managed carefully and with patience to ensure a smooth recovery.

Stretching and mobilising is important, especially the quads. If you’re unable to lie on your stomach and pull your heel to your bottom it’s a sign that your quads are in a poor condition. Regular foam rolling and stretches of the quads, glutes and along the ITB will help prepare you for training and prevent the onset of a patella dysfunction.

Practice the movements you’re struggling with. Ask your coach to look at the movement for correction or to be scaled in the interim until you’ve developed the strength. Also, practice soft landings, if everyone in the gym can hear you land, that’s a lot of force being passed through the knees.

What to Expect from Fundamental Physio

If you’re struggling to recover on your own don’t wait too long. The longer you wait the more chronic it becomes and harder to recover from. Putting up with patellofemoral pain has been shown to accelerate the process of patella osteoarthritis (3). 

Firstly, assessing your knee to test the mechanics of the joint with a series of orthopaedic tests to clear for any other pathologies. Then looking at how your knee and leg moves with different functional tests. This will help identify where you’re struggling and where you may be compensating.

Once we’ve identified the problem areas treatment will be more specific to your problems. This may consist of manual therapy such as massage, joint mobilisation trigger point release and dry needling. Depending on the stage of your recovery, strapping techniques with rigid or kinesio tape.

First we must break you down and then rebuild you…

While the aim is to get you back to functional movements, there may be some individual muscles that might have weakened. You’ll likely start off with some isolated exercises to build strength and control. Then putting it all back together in a compound movement. Correcting your on position, weight distribution and depth. You’ll have a lot more body awareness, rather than just doing the movement and it’ll help prevent an injury like this happening again.

If you’re struggling with recovering on your own contact me on 09 5290990

  1. Lack et al (2015), Proximal muscle rehabilitation is effective for patellofemoral pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis. 
  2. Schindler (2011) Basic kinematics and biomechanics of the patello-femoral joint. Part 1: The native patella. Acta Orthop Belg.
  3. Crossley, (2014) Is patellofemoral osteoarthritis a common sequela of patellofemoral pain? 

The Holiday Workout

Most of us when on Holiday completely switch off from exercise. If you don’t want to miss out on training try some of these workouts.

This blog follows on from The Office Workout I published a few months ago. There are times we neglect exercise, most commonly in the Office and when taking time off, going on holiday.

The usual story is you’ve been training hard all year and then go on vacation. At home you’re a finely tuned machine with a strict routine. In holiday mode, that routine usually goes out the window. Now try not to fear, a week away from the gym will not cause significant losses in muscle mass or fitness.

But if you’re feeling fidgety and can’t just lie in the sun, I’ve put together some options. Also try making some up yourself, get creative with the movements you use in the gym.

Take a rope…

One of the easiest pieces of equipment you can take away. It’s small and light to carry. Work on singles or doubles. Develop your technique and surprise your training buddies when you get back.

75DU’s – 50 air squats – 25 burpees – 20 push ups – 25 burpees – 50 air squats – 75DU’s

Other DU options….

30 HSPU/Push ups – 40 Mountain limbers – 50 Sit ups – 60 Squats – 70DU’s

3 rounds: 20 DU’s – 30 Walking Lunges – 40 Push ups – 30 Squats – 20 V-sit ups – 10 Burpees

Use the ocean…

Unless you’re a CrossFit Games athlete, how often are you doing interval training with swimming?  Find a quite section of beach and jump in the water.

8 Rounds: 100m swim – 10 Push ups – 15 Sit ups

Other swimming options…

30 mins AMRAP 50m Swim – 10 Push ups – 15 Air squats

15 mins AMRAP 50m Swim – 30 seconds treading – 50m Swim 

Use the Beach…

The sand creates another challenge of instability that you don’t have in the gym. Train in the sand to make the workout harder.

5 Rounds: 10 Push ups – 15 Air squats – 50 Walking lunges – 10 Burpees

21 – 15 – 9 Push ups and Air squats – 400m run each round

15m Bear Crawl – 20 Push ups – 15m Crab Walk – 20 Squats – 15m Burpees broad jumps – 20 Mountain Climbers

Get Creative

Think of other possible ways of training on holiday. They might not always work but it’s worth trying.

What’s in a warm up?

There’s a misconception with the warm up, that it’s mainly used to raise the heart rate and body temperature. But there’s much more to this part of your workout. If applied appropriately it can enhance your overall performance.

Warming up before sport or any strenuous activity it’s important to reduce the risk of injury (1-3). For the typical adult most of the day is sedentary (sitting or standing). Would you expect to jump straight into your fastest 100m sprint or complete a heavy dead lift? No is hopefully your answer.

What structures am I warming up?

Vascular System

When you move, changes happen to your circulatory system. There is increased blood flow to muscles, resulting in increased oxygen supply, along with delayed lactate buildup. 

Myofascial System

During the warm up the muscle and fascia (the connective tissue between muscles) begin to increase in temperature. Muscle fibers are prepped for a smoother contraction. A warm up allows fascia to slide easier.

Nervous System

This is the most important part of a warm up. Your nervous system is connected to every other system in your body. A warm up causes increased neural activity, increased sensitivity of nerve receptors and increased speed of nerve impulses. This provides improved balance, faster reaction times, increased speed, strength and flexibility. 


Warming Up Excites Neural Pathways

The nervous system is constantly responding to a multitude of sensory information to adjust muscle tension, movement patterns and balance. If a light jog was your standard “warm up”, but you’re training for heavy dead lifts. Will you have channeled the right neural pathways for this activity?

There’s a study showing improvements in vertical jump performance following sets of squat repetitions (4). It also demonstrated increased EMG neural activity following the squats.

A baseball study showed improvements in batting speed following warm ups with a weighted bat (5). This enhanced the neural motor pattern of this movement providing more speed and strength.


What’s in a warm up?

Really a lot depends on what you’re preparing for. Consider what muscle groups and movement patterns need to be primed. You need to be firing up your neuromuscular system and increasing your heart rate to enhance the vascular system.

Mobility – If you’re not doing this in your spare time, then check-in 10 minutes earlier to do foam rolling or some static stretches for those notorious tight areas.

Cardio – The best way of increasing your heart rate is a light jog or cycle, jump on the rower or practice some skipping.

Dynamic movements – This is where our nervous system gets kick started. Working on these movements will fire up movement patterns used when performing. These movements should engage our core stabilisors of the spine.

Plyometrics – Implementing this into your warm up will help fine tune your motor skills and ensure precision when training.

Explosive strength – Once going through the above warm ups. It helps to use extra resistance to improve those neural connections. Back squats before box jumps. Chest passing medicine ball for passing speed. Weighted overhead throw for spiking or serving.

Take the warm up seriously. By incorporating these actions to your warm up you will see great results and minimise injury.

  1. Emery et al, (2010) The effectiveness of a neuromuscular prevention strategy to reduce injuries in youth soccer: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. 
  2. McCrary et al, (2015) A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. 
  3. Al Attar et al, (2016) How Effective are F-MARC Injury Prevention Programs for Soccer Players? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports Med
  4. Sotiropoulos et al, (2010) Effects of Warm-Up on Vertical Jump Performance and Muscle Electrical Activity Using Half-Squats at Low and Moderate Intensity. J Sports Sci and Med
  5. McCrary et al, (2015) A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. Br J Sports Med