Checklists and Warm-ups

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Daniel Andrews reinforced me to create checklists for warming up after the Level III school in Las Vegas. I picked up the Checklist Manifesto over a year ago, a book I suggested last summer, and find it interesting that Gray Cook is a big fan as well. I reread a few books every year and I wanted to make a clear record if I was doing what I believed. Using Tapforms, I am able to sniff the key data points without using a clipboard. This allows me directly to export to .csv for Excel or Business Intelligence software for analysis. How many times do athletes come to practice tired? How many times do they complain about anterior knee pain bilaterally? Do we see a change in warm-up duration to get limber? Was the athlete always late on Fridays? Does the athlete ever bring a water bottle? Will Kebba Tolbert’s DVD (I suggest his video) make me a Warlock of Warm-ups with his checklist of readiness?

Warm-ups are the ultimate screening methods because they are done every time you train and compete and give the coach and athlete so much feedback and information. Asymmetries are often the easiest to spot, but sometimes athletes are great compensators and area able to push through pain or restriction, so it’s important to make your warm-up a checklist of the attributes to be ready for the specific workout. I like long was easy social warm-ups that encourage communication. The first thing I ask if anything is funky and try not to overreact and do corrective or therapeutic interventions. The warm-up will address a lot of the internal chemistry needs to soft tissue and good movements should help with joint issues. If something is still not working the PT is contacted and the workout is reduced. I find that Plan B is better done with generally less intense work instead of an alternate yet similar activity that could extend the recovery time. Staying in the same theme is good though, since just doing tempo jogging often is too conservative when one can do more weight and sub maximal work.

Here are four tips I picked up from some good clinics over the years.

Use a Challenging Mobility set of exercises- Include big amplitude motions in the GPP to create a mobility reserve or just break even if you have therapy. I don’t find much helps ankles but hips tend to respond well to warm-ups. Save those ankle and back needs for post lifting or training when they can be done slower and longer. Upper back is very anti-gravity based and sets of cleans and squats have done more for those needs then all of the youtube junk I have seen. Matt Garder and I have taken athletes that have had lots of mobility based warm-ups and postural they were not better than the athlete who simply did a basic lifting program. I do find that exaggerated cariocas do more for the upper back if coached and the athlete is focused.

Use a Challenging Stretch Series- It’s ok to do static stretching, so long as it’s right before speed work. Some athletes have literally been on the table 15 minutes before a diamond league race and hit near PR times so it’s also how familiar your body is able to make the switch. The body adapts and often bad programs sport science wise work as the body become use to doing things that on paper don’t make sense. I like gentle and deep static work to quads, hip flexors, adductors, and hamstrings. We then finish the warm-up before doing actual strides and build up sprints.

Make most of the warm-up locomotive- Spend most of your time on your feet moving. Crawling, rolling, and imitation of dogs is nice, but we pull muscles sprinting and hurdling not doing pseudo yoga stuff. Warm-up specifically to what you plan to do gradually. Not doing things familiar to what you are stressing is too much of a jump and disconnect.

Pain and Soreness are not the Same- Track is not easy on the body and athletes will need to deal with soreness, but pain is different. Soreness tends to feel better by doing things, while pain tends to get worse the more or intense you do things. Pain free is nearly impossible, but making sure pain is minimized and addressed is the art of dealing with sprinters. Time after time when I was not going through our checklist because of distractions of things such as interruptions of administration stuff and off the track activities (team pictures or equipment) something happened like a snag or cramp.

What do you use to ensure things are going well and to gage reediness? Please share!

Carl Valle

Carl Valle

Track & Field Coach
Carl is an expert coach who has produced champions in swimming, track and numerous other sports. He is one of the foremost experts in the fields of nutrition and restoration.
Carl Valle

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