Last week in Part 1 of this article series, I outlined the first 4 parts of the new warm up I have created for our gymnasts. In this week, I wanted to give the video link to the last few chunks to our entire 25 minute warm up. Just like last week, here is the video with subtitles to help people with the walk through.
The components to this part of the warm up are
- Jumping and Landing Mechanics – It is absolutely crucial that gymnasts practice jumping and landing mechanics daily, due to the insanely high rates of lower body injuries. Unfortunately, I feel most gymnasts are not being taught the most ideal landing mechanics to reduce their risk of injury, which you can find more about in this article I wrote last year. Teaching and using double leg and single leg mechanics in practice can greatly help reduce injury, and also enhance sticking performance. For this reason, I make them practice regularly.
- Basic Core Control – Believe it or not, this is usually one of the most commonly overlooked aspects to gymnastics development (and many sports). We spend a lot of time on gymnastics specific hollow/arch shapes, but neglect that gymnasts must learn the more general concept of neutral alignment with proper bracing and breathing patterns at a fundamental movement level first. This position and basic brain – body awareness needs to be in place so that the entire core unit can work in synergy to reduce spinal loads, and also serve as a pillar of performance for the arms and legs to work off of during gymnastics skills. It’s staggering the amount of gymnasts I see who only understand hollow bracing, and get stuck there leading to lots of headaches. To help teach this, I use a basic 3 sets of 5 seconds with the proper execution to help engrain this important concept.
- Gymnastics Specific Core Control – This area is what happens in many warm ups, and for good reason as it is an essential part to gymnastics success. Understanding body tension, good form mechanics of the lower body, hollow, and arch positions can’t be overlooked as basics.
- Line Splits For Alignment – As I have taught more on my approach to flexibility methods, people have misinterpreted some of what I say into “passive flexibility is bad and causes injuries”. That is not at all the case. I certainly believe that there is value in passive flexibility such as for positional awareness, technique, and more importantly as a re-occuring measure to see if mobility is improving. The important difference here is that I do not use passive flexibility methods as my main modality to increase split, bridge, or handstand patterns. For those interested, you can find a lot more about my thoughts on this in this blog post and this blog post.
- Press Handstands, Handstand Holds, Back Tucks – These again are essential gymnastics fundamentals that have to be practiced multiple times per week. Another way I like to get them in is through our warm up.
So hopefully over the last few weeks readers have been able to see how I practically apply all the research I read, information I have gained from treating gymnastics with injuries, and where my current thoughts lie. I definitely don’t think this is the “golden warm up” or the only way to go about it. I’m sure my thought process will continue to evolve the more that I learn from others and progress my ideas. For now, I hope this helps. Take care,
– Dave Tilley DPT, SCS