Teenagers should engage in physical activity and sports for a variety of reasons. First of all, research has suggested that the teenage years may be the most important in regards to physical and mental development. There are direct ties between physical activity and improved academic performance. Indeed, studies have even shown that physical fitness could correlate with IQ. Taking proper steps to stay fit during adolescence can benefit the way your teen develops on both a psychological and physical level, equipping them with healthy habits that could continue throughout their entire lives.
Engaging in successful athletic challenges can be difficult without a proper warm-up in place to defend against aches, pains, and pulled muscles. Physical activity of any kind puts the body through a great deal of stress, as movements stimulate the muscles and put pressure on the joints. A good warm-up will help to fight against the negative impact of these stressors by gradually increasing the heart rate, increasing circulation between muscles, ligaments, and tendons, and even preventing potential injuries.
Just as you may struggle to get the best performance out of a car with a cold engine, forcing cold bodies into quick action can lead to muscle damage. Encourage your teens to follow these tips when you’re preparing for a workout in order to prevent injury.
1. Start slowly and build progressively
As keen as your teen may be to join their classmates in sports or physical activities, they should never rush to warm their muscles before an intensive session. A proper workout is something that takes place over time, so the session should start gradually, allowing the body to ease into gentle movements before attempting to push it towards more challenging feats. There is a significant risk of tendon and muscle damage that may occur as a result of overly intense exercise, and this feeling of discomfort can heighten when the heart must work in overdrive within a very short space of time. An exercise regime should never begin with a full sprint; instead, begin with a walk, then a gentle jog, increasing speed in increments.
2. Focus on enhancing circulation
For the body to work at its peak, every system must be functioning smoothly. The harder the body works, the more oxygen muscles will need to thrive. This means that breathing is harder, and the air inhaled will need to move quickly to the areas of the body that need it most. By starting any activity with a warm-up, blood circulation can increase throughout tendons, muscles, and ligaments, raising the core temperature of the body and reducing the amount of work required for muscles to contract. As the heart rate increases, and blood pumps faster throughout the circulatory system, limbs become more flexible, and blood vessels dilate, aiding in the transportation of nutrients and oxygen to working muscles.
3. Use dynamic stretching
Dynamic stretching is a proven and effective method of warming the body for your next workout. Dynamic stretching focuses on keeping your entire body moving throughout the warm-up, preparing your muscles for action by enhancing their core temperature and getting them used to movement. Teens should adjust the type of dynamic stretching they do according to the type of exercise or sport. For instance, teenagers about to take part in a basketball game may want to focus more on lateral movement and upper-body dynamic stretches, whereas those playing soccer may need lower-body warm-ups.
Don’t confuse static stretching with dynamic: traditional static stretches do not give the same benefits as dynamic stretches as they can leave the muscles cold and can actually increase the chance of injury.
4. Remember the importance of balance
Finally, it’s worth remembering that warming up isn’t all about stretching out muscles and getting your heart beating–posture and balance are also critical factors in athleticism. The ability to maintain stability with a small amount of energy expenditure can impact skill development and injury rates. There are two primary forms of balance. The first is static, which is the unmoving option commonly seen in yoga. The second form of balance is dynamic, which focuses on keeping your center of mass sturdy during motion. Dynamic balance often requires a greater deal of energy and concentration, and warming up can assist teens by mentally preparing them for the approaching challenge. The more blood flow increases, the more awareness and concentration will heighten, leading to a more committed and focused athlete.
Warming up is not only crucial for avoiding the negative repercussions of over-exerted muscles; it also leads to various positive effects during athletic performance. As you warm up, your heart rate, blood flow and lung activity increase, ensuring that muscles receive plenty of nutrients and oxygen. In other words, the right warm-up could help transform any beginner into an athletic expert.