For example, Vern Gambetta comments:
I want to make sure that people do not get the impression that stretching is not important. Stretching as a means to improve functional flexibility is very important. It is a separate training unit. Stretching is not warm-up!
This New York Times piece concludes:
Another systematic review, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in 2004. It looked at multiple studies and found that stretching “was not significantly associated with a reduction in total injuries,” but also concluded that more research was needed.
For now, many experts say that what may work is a quick warm-up, like low-impact aerobics or walking. It also helps to ease into an activity by starting off slow and then increasing speed, intensity or weight (for lifting).
So how do you warm up, if not by stretching?
Scott Sonnon says that:
Dynamic movements are the best way to prepare your body for dynamic workouts. The following series of Dynamic movements will develop your flexibility, balance, coordination, mobility and strength.
So what does that mean?
Craig Ballantyne has a nice simple idea of using bodyweight exercises to warm up:
.......do 5 minutes of bodyweight exercises to warm-up. This is a much more efficient approach than spending 5 minutes walking on a treadmill, which really doesn't prepare you for anything except more walking on a treadmill.
for example, we would do a circuit of bodyweight prisoner squats (to include the upper back muscles), some type of pushing movement (pushups - modified to the trainee's level of difficulty), and some type of pulling movement (focusing on shoulder blade retraction).
That could simply be 2 circuits of
- 10 reps of bodyweight squats or lying hip extensions
- 20 second plank
- 6-10 reps of kneeling pushups or pushups
Scot Sonnon has an excellent post on his blog today which is a little more developed:
Sequencing Dynamic Flexibility and Joint Mobility
In this article he presents the standard dynamic flexibility series used by James Madison University.
He goes on to say:
Your workout should have a prescribed joint mobility warm-up. It should always precede this dynamic series. The warm-up raises the body temperature, increases blood flow to the muscles, and lubricates the joints. Always remember warm-up the joints, they prime the muscles for work! Do not stretch to warm-up!
It is a great article.
While I am on the subject, I think Crossfit's warm up stops being a warm up and becomes a workout....