Looks like summer is finally over and autumn is taking its grip. We often see quite a few neck related injuries around this time of year as people are only just changing into winter clothing and get caught out on cold nights and early mornings. We can also be outdoors for extended periods, watching the kids play sport and then of course there is Halloween and Guy Fawkes night.  A good idea is always to have a scarf handy to stop the neck muscles from getting cold, they are often the ones most exposed. Cold neck muscles can often result in a very stiff, painful neck. Equally we might still be sleeping with the window open and any draft over muscles will result in them tightening up.

It is often a time when I see an increase in sports related injuries in the clinic. Some of us are taking up sports again after a summer lay off, sprains and strains are common. During the warmth of the summer months there is less need to be properly warmed up as our muscles are already warm. As the temperature cools a proper warm up is essential to avoid injury. It is also important to be wearing the appropriate clothing…a sweat licking base layer is essential!

Warming up prepares the body for subsequent activity. It is often used as an injury prevention strategy and a way of developing sports performance. For the more serious athlete, it can be an effective use of time to focus on fundamental skills and movement patterns that lay the foundations for sports-specific performance.

15 to 20 mins is ideally the time we should put aside to warm up. This should start with a jog of approx 5 mins, fast enough to just break sweat. At this point depending on the activity a selection of stretches should be performed. Researched has showed that dynamic stretching is more effective than static as part of a warm up. Dynamic stretching is including a stretch as part of a continuous movement of the muscles being stretched. For example exaggerated repeated lunges, moving forward from one leg to the other dynamically, stretch most muscles of the lower extremity. For the sport you are about to perform think of the movements you will make and choose a series of exercises to dynamically stretch those muscles. Once these stretches have been performed 10 mins approx, it is a good idea to finish off with a few short sprints, between 6 and 10 over no more than 50 metres, increasing the pace on each one until the last is done at 90%.