We often choose jump feet first into our exercise sessions without incorporating a proper warm-up but fail to realize that we are not serving our bodies well with this approach, especially in colder temperatures. We like to blame our less than optimal performances on other factors. “I’m just tired,” “Maybe I haven’t eaten properly today,” or “I haven’t trained enough.” Do we ever stop and think that perhaps we haven’t warmed up properly? Here are a couple of sample warm-up ideas for common winter sports!
Where space or equipment is available, an off-ice warm-up completed prior to actually getting on the ice can be very beneficial. Think a light jog or a ride on a stationary bike when available. If space permits, a dynamic warm-up could also take place at this point and could be easier to perform than later, when dressed in bulky equipment on the ice. When choosing exercises, consider movement requirements, muscles used and range of motion needed for the sport. For example, hockey players need to be able to move forward, backward, diagonally etc. Both lower body and upper body muscles are put to work for skating or shooting so a motion-specific warm up might be used approximately 10 minutes after a general warm-up has been performed.
A few sample exercises:
• Knee hugs
• Walking lunges (forward, backward, lateral), include shoulder movements
• Lateral squats (both right and left)
• High knees
• Back peddle
• Butt kicks
• Side shuffle (both right and left)
• Carioca (both right and left, also include arm movements)
• Sprints (50 percent, 75 percent etc.)
Spend the first few minutes doing a light skate in various directions to get the body used to the new temperature. The duration may be 5-10 minutes, depending on how much off-ice warming up has been done. This gradual warm-up could be followed by some dynamic movement such as torso rotations, shoulder rotations, knee flexion, etc. These dynamic movements can be completed while still making your way around the ice. Less time will be needed if there has been an off-ice warm up, which will in turn allow more time for activity-specific exercises such as shooting, passing, on-ice sprints etc. At the end of the session the athlete should have broken a sweat, but shouldn’t be completely fatigued – just comfortable in the new environment.
The recreational skier wouldn’t be likely to spend 8-10 minutes warming up indoors prior to hitting the slopes but I do suggest you try the following routine prior to strapping on the skis!
Depending on space, a light walk or jog can be a great idea along with some jumping jacks. This could be followed by a selection of dynamic exercises
• Squat in place
• Arm circles
• Lunges in place (forward, backward, lateral)
• Shoulder flexion and extension
• Knee Lifts in place
• Butt Kicks in place
• Ski in place
• Torso rotations
• Ski in place again
Once you have strapped the skis on, continue to warm the body with some continuous skate-skiing prior to heading up the lift. This will continue to increase heart rate and temperature in a gradual manner, will help with acclimatizing your body to the temperature and will prepare you for activity. Be sure to take those first few runs at a light intensity, somewhere around a 11-13 rate of perceived exertion on the 20 pt. Borg Scale.
Next time, you hit the slopes, the rink or even go for a jog during the winter months, consider taking that extra few minutes to prepare your body for the stress it’s about to endure. Your body will thank you!