Read: Tips for an Effective Warm Up

Most athletes and exercise enthusiasts are well aware of the importance of a proper warm up prior to physical activity. A warm up helps improve performance and decrease the risk of injury. However, the question becomes: how do we know if we are warming up correctly and effectively?

Below are tips for how to make the warm up process more beneficial:

Practice active movements rather than prolonged stretches
Studies show that a prolonged stretch just prior to a competition can actually lead to decreased performance. Active movements (such as light jogging) increase blood flow and improve the ability of the muscle to contract and relax. Prolonged stretches are an important tool for the improvement of flexibility but should be done after a competition.

Perform movements that mimic the activity/sport
In the case of baseball and softball, this means playing catch or taking easy practice swings before going into the game. Doing this targets and prepares the specific muscles needed for the activity.

Don’t overdo it
Spending too much energy during the warm up can lead to fatigue, which can result in decreased performance and greater chance of injury. This becomes particularly evident in baseball and softball when a player throws too much or too hard prior to going into the game. Remember to keep all warm ups simple and light.

An effective warm up is integral to improving performance and reducing the risk of injury for athletes and exercise enthusiasts at all levels. No matter the activity, devoting a few moments to a warm up before setting out can prevent months of rehab due to an injury.

Contributed by Billy Reilly, owner of
Baseball Performance Analysis, LLC and licensed physical therapist at JAG Physical Therapy in New York City.

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