Warming up before any form of exercise is very important, because it helps to prepare the muscles, joints and tendons for the extreme workout which is yet to come. Starting each session with a warm-up is particularly important for children and juniors who take part in athletics. Failing to warm-up properly can increase the risk of pulled muscles, torn ligaments and strains/sprains. Warming up properly will also help to mentally prepare you for a tougher workout.
The importance of warming up should be drilled into athletes from a young age, so that they continue to warm-up correctly throughout the rest of their lives. Although the perfect warm-up for children’s athletics can depend on the disciplines that are being practiced, a great warm-up routine will involve light repetition and a bit of variety. Here are some warm-up activities which you might like to try before a children’s athletics session.
Star jumps are a great exercise for children to do as part of their warm-up routine, because they are easy, fun and offer a whole body stretch. Start with your legs together and your arms by your sides. Jump upwards and then land with your feet wide apart. As you are jumping you should also widen your arms, so that your whole body forms a star shape. Jump up again to return to your original position. Repeat this process 20 times.
Walking Knee Grabs
Try doing walking knee grabs to help to stretch out the muscles in your thighs. Start off standing equally on both legs. Bring one knee up as far as you feel comfortable. Try to make sure that every knee raise goes to at least hip height or above. If you are able to bring it all of the way until you are close to being able to hug your thigh to your chest, then this is even better! When you bring your leg back down again, you should use the raised leg to take a step forwards. Repeat the knee lift with the leg which was previously on the floor. This will create a strange walking motion.
Arm circles are designed to help to loosen up the back muscles and stretch out the muscles and tendons in the shoulders. These stretches are good before throwing events. Raise both of your arms above your head and then swing both arms forwards and down simultaneously, so that they are both by your sides. Swing them back up to the top again so that they complete a full circular motion. Do 10 full rotations with your arms. Start again with your arms up above your head. Swing your arms backwards instead of forwards. Do 10 full rotations with your arms going backwards.
Horizontal Arm Rotations
To help to warm-up the muscles in your trunk, torso and core, you can perform some horizontal arm rotations. Raise your arms up to shoulder height and hold them straight out at either side of your body. Your body should form a T shape. Keep your feet about shoulder width apart. Without moving your feet, turn the top half of your body to one side so that your arms start to move in a horizontal rotation. Turn and far as you feel comfortable and then turn back to your starting point. Repeat the process by turning in the other direction. Turn to each side 10 times during the course of the warm-up. It is important that all of the movements are careful and controlled. Swinging your body to allow you to turn further can put strain onto your spine, and should be avoided.
Side shuffles help to strengthen the core muscles and warm up the lower parts of the body. Side shuffles need plenty of space, and the members of the club may have to take it in turns or move in relay. Start in a slightly crouched position with the legs together. Move one leg to the side and then bring the other leg over to join it. This creates a single side step. Repeat the process again and again to act as a side shuffle. Once you get the hang of the side step, you can start to move more quickly. Cover a distance of approximately 50metres. Return to your starting point by leading with the alternate leg.
Skipping is a great way to finish a warm-up session, because it helps to build your coordination as well as working a variety of different muscle groups. Skipping with a rope will help to gradually raise your heart rate, so that you will be ready for the athletic exercise session ahead. Try to skip for 5 minutes at the end of every warm-up session. As your strength and skipping technique improves, you may be able to skip for longer. Skipping can also be included as part of the cool down process after exercise.