Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Decrease Injuries and Enhance your Performance

Decrease Injuries and Enhance your Performance through a Proper Warm Up

If you are like most athletes, you have probably done some type of stretching prior to a game or practice. Athletes have been told for years that warming up prior to an athletic activity will help prevent injuries and increase performance. Therefore, since stretching is often associated with warming up, many athletes stretch statically prior to practice and competition thinking it is the most effective activity. As a Division I Strength and Conditioning Coach for the past ten years and having worked with and prepared thousands of college athletes for competition and daily workouts, it has been my job to make sure athletes warm up both effectively and efficiently. This includes researching, studying, and implementing scientific and practical warm up methods. The purpose of this article is to help you make your warm ups more effective so that you can enjoy the game of tennis injury free and play it more successfully.

Static Stretching
Let me begin by defining what static stretching is and how it affects your ability to perform during competition as well as practice. Simply stated, static stretching is passively taking a muscle to the point of tension and holding that stretch for at least 20 seconds. Many studies have been done on the effects of static stretching prior to a proper warm up or physical activity. This research has shown that static stretching temporarily limits the muscles’ peak strength and power. In any athletic event or activity, this can be detrimental to your game. With that said, Static stretching, when used properly, can be of great benefit and should be a regular part of your exercise routine. To make static stretching more effective, it should be done at the end of your match or workout while your body is still warm.

Dynamic Flexibility (Movement Preparation)
A dynamic warm can be done on the court, in the gym or even at home with limited space. Dynamic flexibility uses the force production of a muscle and the body’s momentum to actively take a joint or joints through the full available range of motion. Going through a dynamic flexibility routine prior to competition or workouts is like preheating your oven prior to placing your favorite dish inside it to bake. Movement preparation will normally take anywhere from 10-20 minutes depending upon the activity. It can and should incorporate sport specific movements that are done in both linear and lateral directions. Below are just a few of the benefits that a properly designed dynamic flexibility routine will provide.

1. Develops long term flexibility
2. Decreases muscle imbalances that can cause movement compensations which often
lead to injuries
3. Increases the body’s core temperature
4. Develops proper movement patterns and optimal muscle firing
5. Prepares the body to move at game speed through progressively increasing intensity
and speed of the movements
6. Increases balance

The goal of your warm up routine should be to prepare your body for the specific activity you will soon be performing. It should be progressive in nature and include both linear and lateral movements. Although there is a value in stretching statically, it should not to be used as a mode to warm up or prepare for competition. Dynamic flexibility exercises will increase your core temperature and lengthen your muscles actively so that flexibility gains are long term. These exercises will also improve your balance and they are the perfect formula for building mobility, flexibility, stability and strength so you can decrease the risk of common injuries and enjoy your favorite activity the rest of your life.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Welcome to the Pensacola Adventure Boot Camp Blog!

As the director and instructor of Pensacola Adventure Boot Camp for women and as the Director of Strength and Performance at the University of West Florida , I get to help many women and athletes reach their athletic, health and fitness goals. The purpose of this blog is to share the knowledge and tools that I have learned and used successfully for the past 14 years as a collegiate athlete and Strength and Conditioning Coach to help make heath, fitness, and wellness a permanent and exciting part of your life.

My philosophy is to take care of the body through a smart, efficient, and effective lifestyle. This includes getting enough sleep, eating as many whole and unprocessed foods as you can, implementing a fun and effective exercise routine, taking time to do the things you enjoy, and making time for your family and friends.

The mission of this blog is to provide you with information and tools that can help you make all of these principles a reality in your own life and to inspire you to be the best you can possibly be. This blog will also serve as an place where past, current and future boot campers and athletes can come and comment on the topics and how they have positively affected their own lives.

I look forward to sharing information and helping you become the best you can be!