CSCS Chapter 14: Warm-Up and Flexibility Training
CSCS Study Guide Chapter 14

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Chapter Goals:

  • Find the Components and the benefits of warm-ups.
  • Make warm-ups that are effective.
  • Find factors affecting flexibility.
  • Use flexibility exercises taking advantage of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.
  • Select and apply appropriate static and dynamic stretching methods.

Warm-Up

These positive impacts on performance can happen:

  • Quicker muscle contractions and relaxations of agonist and antagonist’s muscles.
  • Improved rate of force development and reaction time.
  • Improved strength and power.
  • Low muscular viscous resistance.
  • Improvements in the delivery of oxygen due to the Bohr effect. This is when temperatures facilitate oxygen release from both hemoglobin and myoglobin.
  • Increases in blood flow to muscles that are active.
  • Enhancements in metabolic reactions.
  • Increases in psychological preparedness for performance.

A warm-up structure influences possible improvements, and the warm-up needs to stay specific to the performed activity.

Warm-up components

Typically, 5 – 10 minutes of slow activity like jumping or skipping.

Specific warm-up periods have movements like the movements in the athlete’s sport. These should be 10 – 20 minutes. Shorter time frames are more common.

The warm-up should end no more than 15 minutes before the subsequent activity. 

Targeted and Structured Warm-ups

Raise, Activate Mobilize, and Potentiate protocol. (RAMP)

The first RAMP phase raises key physiological parameters and athletes’ skill level with activities.

This is like the general warm-up, where we aim to elevate body temperature, heart rate, respiration, blood flow, and joint fluid viscosity.

Use more sport-specific moves to warm up.

The second phase is for activating and mobilizing.

This is like stretching in a regular warm-up.

There is no link between stretching and preventing injuries or muscle soreness.

The use of dynamic stretching and mobilities give key advantages.

The third phase is called potentiation.

This is like the specific warm-up, but it focuses on the intensity of activities.

The phase deploys sport-specific activities that progress until athletes perform at the required intensity for the next activity or session.

The more power necessary for sports or activities, the more important this third phase is.

Flexibility

A measure of the range of motion. There are static and dynamic components.

Static flexibility is the possible range of motion around a joint and its surrounding muscles during passive movements.

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Dynamic Flexibility is the range of motion available during active movements.

Flexibility and Performance

There are perfect levels of flexibility for every activity.

Injury risk increases outside of this range

Factors Affecting Flexibility

Joint Structure

Structure determines the range of motion of a joint.

Age and Sex

Older people are typically less flexible than younger ones, and females are more flexible on average.

Muscle and Connective Tissue

Plasticity and Elasticity of connective tissues affect a range of motion.

Stretch Tolerance

People with a greater range of motion typically show higher levels of stretch tolerance and can thus take higher loads.

Neural Control

The athlete’s control of their range of motion is held at the level of the central and peripheral nervous systems and less by the actual structures.

Resistance Training

Exercising through full ranges of motion and developing the agonist and antagonist muscles can stop the loss of range of motion.

Muscle Bulk

Bigger muscles may stop the movement of a joint.

Activity Level

Active people are often more flexible than those that are inactive. Activity alone doesn’t improve flexibility.

Frequency, Duration, and Intensity of Stretching

The acute effects that stretching has on a range of motion are transient.

For long-lasting effects, stretching programs are needed.

When should an Athlete Stretch?

Following Practice and Competition

Stretching after practice gives improvements to a range of motion due to increases in muscle temperature.

Stretching is needed 5 – 10 minutes after practice.

Stretching may decrease muscle soreness.

As a separate session

If someone needs increased flexibility, you may need additional sessions for stretching.

Stretching should be preceded by thorough warm-ups in this case.

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This session can be useful for recovery the day after competing.

Proprioceptors and Stretching

Stretch Reflex

This occurs when muscle spindles are activated when doing rapid stretching movements.

This needs to be avoided when stretching.

Autogenic inhibition and reciprocal inhibition

This is accomplished with active contraction prior to passive stretch of the same muscle.

Reciprocal inhibition is accomplished by contracting the muscle that opposes the muscle being stretched passively.

Both reflexes result from the stimulation of Golgi tendon organs that cause relaxation of the reflexive muscle.

Types of Stretching

Static Stretch

Slow, constant stretch with the final position held for 15 – 30 seconds.

Ballistic Stretch

This involves active muscular efforts and the use of bouncing type movements where the end position isn’t held.

Dynamic Stretch

This stretch is a type of functionally based exercise stretching that uses generic sport and specific sports movements.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation stretch (PNF)

Hold Relax:

Passive pre-stretch of ten seconds, hold for six seconds, and a thirty-second passive stretch.

Contract Relax:

Passive pre-stretch of ten seconds, concentric action through a full range of motion, and thirty-second passive stretching.

Hold Relax With Agonist Contraction:

In the third phase, the concentric action of agonists is used to increase the stretch force.

Most effective PNF stretch due to reciprocal and autogenic inhibition.

Common PNF Stretches With a Partner

  • Calf and ankle
  • Chest
  • Groin
  • Hamstrings and hip flexors
  • Quads and hip flexors
  • Shoulder

Guidelines for Static Stretching

Be in a position good for relaxing.

Move to where you feel discomfort in your range of motion. 

Hold the stretch for thirty seconds.

Repeat stretches on both sides.

Precautions for Static Stretching

Lower the intensity of the stretch if experiencing pain, radiating symptoms, and losing sensations.

Use caution when stretching a joint that is known to be hypermobile.

Avoid spine related movements.

Stabilizing muscles must be active to protect the other joints and unneeded movements.

Guidelines for Dynamic Stretching

5 – 10 reps of each move.

Increase the range of motion with every rep.

Increase the speed of motion when appropriate.

Contract muscles through the range of motion.

Precautions for Dynamic Stretching

Progress through a range of motion.

Deliberately move without bouncing. 

Use a good technique for more range of motion.

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CSCS Chapter 14: Warm-Up and Flexibility Training 1
CSCS Chapter 14: Warm-Up and Flexibility Training 2
CSCS Chapter 14: Warm-Up and Flexibility Training 3

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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