|Strength & Conditioning for Lacrosse: The Dynamic Warm-up|
By Billy J. Voltaire, CSCS
Stretching is commonly used for therapeutic reasons and to elicit increased flexibility. Some of the benefits of stretching include recovery from delayed onset muscle soreness (typically 24-48 hours after intense activity), reduced muscle tension, and increased range of motion (ROM) to name a few.
Prior to any athletic event, whether practice or game, most teams typically begin with a stretch of some sort. Athletes and teams often go haphazardly through their routines prior to their event, attempting to warm up. Considerable research has been conducted in recent years on the effects of stretching prior to games and its effect on power production. The research supports why we should be moving in a different direction in regards to pre-game warm-up.
There are various types of stretches: dynamic, static, ballistic, PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation), and passive. Some coaches still have athletes run through static stretches. A static stretch is one that is held for a period of 15-30 seconds at a point of mild discomfort. This form of stretching has been traditionally used for physical therapy or after games, workouts, or practices to increase flexibility.
Holding a stretch for this long can fatigue the muscle and potentially decreases its ability produce maximum power. With that said, why do we continue to do these stretches before competition? Static stretching is better suited for post-competition, when you can take advantage of the increased core temperature to increase flexibility.
Prior to competition, the goal is to warm up muscles and joints and prepare the nervous system. A dynamic warm-up is one that incorporates all the necessary components of stretching without losing anything. Dynamic stretches are rhythmic exercises that gently take you through the limits of your range of motion. They are similar to ballistic stretches except there is a controlled movement, not a jerky one (e.g., toe touches and bouncing to reach the floor).
Depending on the goal of the workout or event, I may include form running or plyometrics into the warm-up. But typically I include controlled movements, some form of static stretching, a few sprints and keep it sport-specific. In studies that analyze the difference between dynamic and static stretching prior to competition, some have found no difference, but many have shown that dynamic stretching can improve muscular performance.
Dynamic Warm-up Examples
Sample warm-ups using dynamic stretching are illustrated in the video below as well as outlined in the box beneath it.
Rules of Thumb
1. Include an aerobic component, (e.g., moderate sprints, shuffles, and/or backpedals).
Terms to Know
Ballistic Stretch: A type of stretch that is not held for a given time frame; instead, the body is forced to increase ROM by bouncing.
McMillan, D., Moore, J., Hatler, B., & Taylor, D. (2006, October). [Review of Dynamic- vs. Static-Stretching Warm-up: The Effect on Power and Agility Performance.] Strength & Conditioning Journal, 20(3), 492-499.
Previous Strength & Conditioning for Lacrosse Articles
Billy J. Voltaire, CSCS, is the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Manhasset High School in Manhasset, New York. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.