Our muscles, bones, and ligaments are a complex system. The central nervous system in our brain controls them through signals it sends via peripheral nerves. Over time, synapses between our individual brain cells become semi-permanent. In other words, certain thoughts and behaviors develop into habits.
More About Sensory Motor Coupling
We call this integration between our minds and bodies, sensory-motor coupling. Without going to too much detail, our minds compare our intentions and the situation with the status of our muscles, bones, and ligaments. Then they send their orders back down the appropriate nerve connections.
According to a 2011 report by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, practicing, or warming up before athletic activity is more than warming up our muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They believe it recalibrates the athlete’s sensory-motor system during ‘a prolonged period of warm-up.’ This enables us to burst into immediate action on the field or track with our bodies and minds finely tuned.
How to Go About a Holistic Warm Up
Holistic medicine treats the whole person, by taking into account physical, mental and societal factors. Similarly, a holistic warm-up delivers three essential components:
- A confident mind sharply focused on the approaching athletic contest
- A recalibrated sensory-motor system with mind and body perfectly aligned
- A system of muscles, bones and ligaments superbly prepared for action
Step 1 – Arrive Well Before the Event, Prepare, and Exercise
Pro-Athletes put their warm-up ahead of all other priorities for the day. They show up early, not just in time. They complete their limbering up before the coach begins the actual exercises. Then they welcome these with zest and enthusiasm. For them exercise is a precondition for peak performance and injury-resistance, not just a grudge activity.
Step 2 (a) – Exercise for Injury-Free Peak Performance
Exercise has two essential functions. First, it enables the sensory-motor system to calibrate and align around core athletic movements. Secondly, it increases blood flow to the skeletal muscles by up to 75% compared to sitting still. This warms the blood so it releases more oxygen. This makes for better muscular performance, and faster nerve transmission.
Step 2 (b)
A Pro Athlete’s warm up includes mentally connecting with the event, in parallel to building muscular confidence and exercising their nervous system. Mental preparation involves shunting all other priorities to one side until after the contest. It also builds psychological stamina, so the power of their mind keeps them going, even when the going gets tough.
The Ideal Length of Time for Warming Up
While ten to twenty minutes seems the accepted norm, the ideal period varies between athletes. Pro Athletes in the peak of their conditions need longer, although only they will know how long this is.
Athletes who have been away from their sport for a while, will definitely take longer to iron out bad habits, and fully recalibrate their sensory-motor coupling. The longer it takes, the better for the enthusiast. Because they love their sport, and want to excel.
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