Published: Mar. 2, 2007
Updated: Feb. 24, 2011
Revolutionizing the warm-up: Learn about and see video examples of a system developed for Duke athletes
By Kathleen Yount
Lots of field athletes warm up either through stretching or just starting to play.
And warming up by going straight into practice “is just a great way to get injured,” says Mike Huff, founder of the Duke Sports Performance Program, a service of “K-Lab” -- the Michael Krzyzewski Human Performance Lab in the Duke Sports Medicine Center. (Huff took a position coaching basketball at a local school in 2007, but he remains an adjunct staff member with Duke Sports Performance.)
While stretching is a critical part of proper cool-down, traditional warm-up stretches relax muscles instead of energizing them. A warm-up should be the process of focused transition from your daily grind -- sitting in a classroom or at a desk -- to a highly activated neuromuscular state.
Huff and others in the K-Lab have devised a tool that can not only reduce debilitating injuries but also improve an athlete’s performance. They call their tool a warm-up. But it’s actually a whole new way of approaching this often-overlooked aspect of practice and competition.
The K-Lab worked with renowned sports trainer Verne Gambetta to create this system, which they call the dynamic warm-up. The methods are described and demonstrated on video, available through Duke Sports Medicine.
The video is composed of five types of exercises, demonstrated by athletes from up-and-coming kids to men’s basketball champion Nate James.
The players demonstrate several different moves and variations that can be done for each type of exercise. Athletes can select a move from each segment for a 15- to 20-minute warm-up program.
“When you finish this warm-up, you are physically and psychologically ready to compete,” says Huff.
The five types of exercise are:
Band work: These exercises are great for warming up and strengthening the muscles of the hip girdle. Exercises include forward walk, backward walk, carioca, monster walk, and the sidestep.
Balance: This component works on single leg balance. The key is to keep the focus on your leg by keeping your hands in. Exercises include sagittal plane (leg in front), frontal plane (leg to the side), transverse plane (open the hips), and balance shifts.
Dynamic flexibility: Dynamic flexibility concentrates on flexibility but not by lying on the ground and stretching -- you move. These activities stretch the muscles of the lower back and hamstring. Exercises include crawls and lunges.
Coordination: Exercises include skips, carioca, backward run, and zig-zag run.
Plyometrics: Fully energize the neuromuscular system. When you finish this portion you’ll be fully warmed up and ready to practice. Control and technique are key in these exercises. Exercises include line jumps, line hops, and multidirectional jumps.
Huff says that the warm-up is good for any type of sport: soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, basketball, volleyball, tennis. Duke teams from women’s lacrosse to men’s basketball have incorporated the techniques into their warm-up routines.
“There’s no magic in the particular exercises that we use,” says Huff. “The magic is in how you think about warming up, where you’re progressing from something that’s slow and easy to working really hard. That’s how you get really ready to go full-speed into your practice."
“We really want to keep people healthy and let them enjoy their sport.”
Dynamic Warm-Up for Sports can be ordered on VHS from Duke Sports Medicine. The cost is $35.00, plus $5.00 for shipping and handling.
Duke Sports Medicine
c/o Greg McElveen
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, NC 27710