This increases blood flow through muscle tissues which allows an increase in metabolism also muscle temperature. Also it allows haemoglobin to release oxygen more frequently to the muscles which require it. Increases range of motion around a joint and there are hormonal changes. The body increases its production of various hormones responsible for regulating energy production. During warm-up this balance of hormones makes more carbohydrates and fatty acids available for energy production.
To begin with my warm up, I will start with a 5-10 minute light jog, this exercises the major muscle groups. Then I will replicate movement patterns and intensity similar to rugby i.e. short sprints, multi directional running.
After raising my body temperature, I then need to start stretching my muscles, this is done to warm the muscles even further and begin to loosen them to prevent any sort of injury such as cramp. At this stage the stretches should be gentle stretches as the muscles are too tight and holding the position for too long may cause an injury. In rugby the legs and arms should be warm and flexible because of all the running, tackling, kicking and passing involved.
After the dynamic stretching is complete, another jog or any rugby replicate patterns should be done for a further 5. ie: jogging the circuit of the pitch or an example of what my team does is called the paddy’s drill:
Set-up a 10 metre square grid with equal players on each corner.
Player 1 starts with the ball at his corner
Player 1 passes the ball to player 2 who is on the next corner.
Player 3 then runs from the same corner as player 1, receiving the ball off player 2 and passes to player 4 on the next corner.
Player 2 receives the ball off player 4 and passes to player 5 on the next cone. This is carried on for 5 minutes or so.
After this, dynamic stretches are done, these are stretches done whilst moving. Firstly we stand on the 5m line facing the touch line, and we start off by walking on our tip toes to the touch and back, loosening up our gastrocnemius and our hamstrings. Then we go on to our heels and walk to the touch and back, this increases the range of movement in our ankles, and also works the same leg muscle groups.
We then do a walking lunge to the touch line and back to the 5m line stretching the glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and gastrocenimius. Another stretch we do are squats where you jog three small quick steps forward then go low down in a squat position, the jogging loosens the muscles already stretched even further and the squats stretch out the quadricep groups the glutes, and also involves the hamstrings, the gastrocnemius, and the lower back. This movement is also carried out in game play, such as in scrums, rucking and tackling.
When the dynamic stretching is done, we have a quick game of touch rugby to get everyone on the team mentally and physically ready for the match. After this the forwards and backs split up to practice their procedures such as line outs, and the back passing phases.
Then we all group up again to do our final lot of stretches, these ones being static. As the muscle groups and joints are very loose its now possible to hold a stretch which you can sustain for around 20 seconds without injuring yourself.
This is also the time to do any sort of personal stretches or warming up if you have any sort of long-term injuries or feel certain area of your body is weak – a general warm up should be done as a team or as a group, but certain people have certain area’s of weakness that they need to focus on.
A warm up has the following effects of the vascular system:
Gradual increase in blood flow due to the vascular shunt mechanism via
1) Vasoconstriction of the arterioles – precapillary sphincters decrease blood flow to the organs which aren’t being used.
2) Vasodilatation of muscles arterioles – precapillary sphincters increase the delivery of blood flow to the muscles that require it the most.
Increased body/muscle temperature causing a more rapid increase in transport of the enzymes required for energy and responsible for muscle contractions. Also it decreases blood viscosity which improves the efficiency of blood flow to the working muscles in the body
It decreases the point at which lactic acid is produced. Reduces the period at which lactic acid is maintained due to quick recovery of oxygen debt to the fatigued muscles which have been working.
1. Lunges – Stand tall, keeping back straight, lunge forward with the right leg approximately 1.5 metres. The right thigh should be parallel to the ground. The left knee should be around 1 inch above the floor, don’t let it drop on the floor. Spring back to the starting position, alternating each leg for around 12 – 16 reps.
2. Squats – Stand tall with arms out in front of you, parallel to the floor. Bend at the knee’s until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Always keep the back long throughout the movement. Once at your lowest point, fully straighten your legs, returning to the starting position. Repeat for around 16 times. Keep breathing controlled by inhaling as you descend and exhaling as you rise. image01.jpg
3. Calf Raise – The calf stretch can be done by using a curb, set of stairs or another elevated platform. Place the leg to be stretched in the rear with the toes on the platform and the other leg forward. Keep the stretched leg straight and hold for 15-30 seconds before switching legs. This works the gastrocnemius and also the group of hamstrings.
After completing some dynamic stretching, I then move on to a few static stretches:image03.jpg
1. Groin stretch – Sit with a tall posture then ease both of your feet up towards your body whilst inhaling (take a deep breath), knee’s should come up and out to the side. Then sink both knees to the ground slowly exhaling at the same time. The stretch should be felt in both sides of the groin and down the inside of both thighs. Hold this stretch for about 20 seconds, and then relax. Repeat for a couple of times
2. Shoulder stretch – Stand feet shoulder width apart, knee’s slightly bent, place right arm parallel with ground across the front of the chest. Bend the left arm up and ease the right arm closer to the chest. Repeat with other arm after 15 seconds. This works your posterior deltoid, triceps brachii the pectorals and the trapezius.
After completing my warm up, before the game I prepare myself mentally, focusing on my positions role in the game. I do this by picturing myself succeeding such as doing big tackles or breaking through the defensive lines, working up my optimal anxiety level to believing we can win.
Through a good warm up, the efficiency of muscular contraction increases to its optimum. The speed of contraction may be increased approximately 20% by raising the body temperature.
The physiological benefits of raising muscle temperature through proper warm up prior to the actual game include:
Reduced muscle viscosity
Increased capacity of Haemoglobin to give up oxygen and encourage oxygen dissociation to the muscles which require it.
Improvement in blood circulation
Cooling down is the opposite of warming up: Adjusting from a strained position into a resting position.
The best thing to do as soon as finishing a match or training session is to go for a gentle jog at a low intensity up and down the pitch for 3 or 4 times, after the jog start walking up and down for a couple of times whilst swaying your arms across the chest calmly, also shake the muscles whilst they dangle to reduce stiffness in the muscle. This is just to keep moving and the blood flow to the muscles is constant.
Now you should perform a few static stretches to the body on the major muscle groups that have been working, this will help the muscles relax and improve flexibility. Each muscle group should be stretched 2-3 times, with each stretch lasting for 20-30 seconds.
Then have a warm shower followed by a short cold shower.
Treat any soft tissue injuries with the R.I.C.E.D method:
Rest – rest the injury
Ice – apply ice to the injury, this causes vasoconstriction to reduce internal bleeding and swelling
Compression – bandaging the injury will also help reduce swelling.
Elevation – Support the limb at a raised level, the flow of blood reduces because it has to flow against gravity
It is also efficient if you eat and drink correctly afterwards, 1 litre of water per hour for 3 hours. You need to eat the right foods to maintain sufficient energy levels, over half the food intake should come from complex carbohydrates .i.e. pasta, bread, rice, this is then broken down to glucose which is used as energy. Also ensure 15% of protein is taken (eggs, fish meat) which helps repair damaged body tissues.
Cool down effects on the vascular system: Cool downs should be active
Keeps metabolic activity elevated which gradually decreases heart rate and respiration
Maintains respiratory/muscle pump which – prevents blood pooling in the veins
Maintains blood flow to supply oxygen to fatigued muscles
Keeps capillaries dilated to flush muscles with oxygenated blood, which increases the removal of blood and muscle lactic acid and Carbon Dioxide.