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Badminton Warm Up, Cool Down and Injury

When it comes to protecting your body parts from getting injured, the list can be endless! Shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, and ankle problems are common, but trapped nerves have also been a problem for both people I play with and myself.

I would think the best tip I could ever give is to ‘Engage Brain’!

Warm-up by Engage Brain

Most people do minimal warm-up and NO warm down. How many times have you seen people walk on the court and clear end to end for a warm-up? Or try to WIN the warm-up? Disaster waiting to happen! There is loads of badminton-specific information on the Internet about warming up for there to be no excuses.

The more seriously you take your badminton, the more you need to think about improving your fitness seriously. By strengthening muscle groups, we can become better badminton players and help keep injuries at bay. We need to strengthen the muscles BEYOND what is required of them, so we do not suffer injuries PLAYING.

But we also need to allow rest periods for our muscles to recover and grow – it is during recovery, adaption takes place. Training needs to be planned!

And if we have just come back from holiday, why do we think we are just as fit as before we went? We would come back slowly if we came back from injury, so we should do the same after any layoff.

To stave off injury, your brain is probably the most important muscle you have!

badminton injured


Last year, I had 2 ligaments (ACL and PCL) + a torn meniscus in my left knee after sliding to the back and doing a cross net slice. My entire body moved to my intention except for my left knee, planted at the wrong angle. Snap, Pop-Pop Pop. 3 pops, and I’m in the hospital like an hour later. I thought that was the end of my sports life.

However, I was back at court about a month later but with a stiff knee. With knee and patella brace, I struggled on but had twisted my knee twice, which actually helped to loosen the knots in my ligaments. I have to rub some ointment and massage the knee with a metal tube for about an hour a day for 2 weeks. Now, I’m back like 70% of my previous speed, and in compensating for that, I changed my style of play.

Prevention Required

For prevention, a little knowledge of anatomy can go a long way. I had self-diagnosed myself (I eventually saw a physiotherapist for the official diagnosis) with patellar tendinitis, or more commonly ‘jumper’s knee.’ The pain actually occurs under my knee cap (although it could hurt at different places for other people, i.e., the top of the knee cap).

Without a general anatomy background, it is easy to try to find treatment at the point of pain (under the knee cap), but with that background, one would learn that the ‘thigh’ muscle crosses over the knee and inserts into the top of the ‘shin’ bone (tibia).

With this knowledge, I can then determine that although the pain is in my knee, it is probably because my thigh muscles are much too tight and have developed restrictions from overuse. From that concept, it would make sense that because my thigh muscle is ‘tight,’ that means the muscle is automatically shortened, which could cause more pulling on the quadriceps tendon, which is aggravated at the point below the knee cap. Not all injuries are like this, but it is good to understand that there may be other possibilities for pain.

Get A Roller

For my treatment, I would advocate using foam rollers, or if you can afford the travel roller (search online), or even what my myofascial release therapist told me: a rolling pin. I would go for softer to start because this will be an entirely new form of pain to those trying it out, but it’s quite effective in my experience.

However, there are many different ways of ‘rolling,’ so I cannot say which is the right way, but I can only advise you to find the right way that works for you.

Some people like to find sore spots and keep rolling them over and over, back and forth, but I like to find a sore spot, hold it for 20-30 seconds, then slowly progress, hold it again, and keep going until there is less pain. The other option is to find a single ‘trigger point,’ put pressure on it until it releases, then moves on to the next trigger point.

I would recommend ‘self-myofascial release’ (SMR) to anyone as a preventative and maintenance program. The best way for it to work is to be WARM, do the SMR where needed, stretch the area, then apply heat at the end… heat pad, hot tub, steam for the best results. Unfortunately, I usually only have time for the first two, but that works well.

If you do try my advice, I must warn you to go slow to start. Though injury risk is very low, I would be careful around the spinal areas (lower back and neck), especially if using a hard roller. Or, better yet, look up a licensed therapist or ask your health practitioner about myofascial release.

It’s like ‘Active Release Techniques’ (ART), but I find it a little better, as I like the concept of slowly stretching my muscles back to length versus having someone did his/her thumbs into my muscle to tear up the scar tissue. But hey, whatever works.

Play for Long Hours

For some people, they can finish playing many games of badminton – doubles nonstop and feel great. Of course, if you are starting to play any game, I am sure you can and probably will injure yourselves, but I believe if you play continuously and generally keeps fit by working out in a gym, weights, total gym, etc.

Is Warm-up Really Necessary?

You can reasonably be sure you will not injure yourself unless you overstress yourself out too much. Sure everybody speaks about warming up. Do we ever see either a lion or a leopard warm up before they attack prey?

This seems like a good point about lions and leopards, but I don’t think they spend most of their time sitting behind a desk or TV.

If you watch lions and leopards hunting, they stalk or ambush their prey. The way they stalk is very similar to ‘Dynamic Stretching,’ which is very popular as a warm-up. They also often play-fight (lions) or stretch and groom after a kill.

I also think they are super-charged with adrenaline before a kill, which certainly helps!

In terms of warming up and cooling down

Lions are built to be on all four limbs biomechanically, built to hunt their prey. If they weren’t, they would be extinct because they would literally ‘suck at life.’ Warming up and cooling down is good for everyone, and the idea that someone is 67 and injury-free is great.

But for the rest of the people, perhaps it’s not the same. Scientific evidence has shown benefits from warm-up and cooling down. Unless you believe your single testimonial is greater than scientific evidence, then maybe we shouldn’t use broken analogies because maybe predators warm up as much as their prey warms up.

Would we be able to say that if the prey warmed up, it would outrun the predator? Does the leopard do extra training so it can win the Animal Olympics in Africa?

It’s a very simple principle, and I apologize if it seems blunt: people have their own individual tolerances to muscle stress. Based on their flexibility and regular habits, muscles may become more restricted based on what they do in their daily life.

When muscles are not over-stressed, they can still function normally, but when we need to call for them to be over-stressed, which badminton is notorious for, they need to be ‘warm’ to function better. If you don’t believe me, look up the science of ‘Dynamic stretching.’

As for cool down, the concept is that light aerobic exercise (e.g., jogging) is useful for helping eliminate lactic acid build-up.

Lactic acid occurs when the muscles do not receive enough oxygen to function. Hence, they have to go through a different chemical process so that the muscles’ waste product build-up from energy production doesn’t destroy your body. Badminton’s dynamics often make a player tap into his or her anaerobic lactic energy system, hence the build-up of lactic acid.

Sorry for the science lecture. A little knowledge can go a long way sometimes.

We have all gone on cold or left straight away for a beer afterward and got away with it, but I do think the smart money is on a warm-up to help avoid injury. But I think you were half teasing anyway: you admit that you keep yourself fit so that you can fully enjoy your sport, which is what (hopefully!)we all do.

By the way, I have a friend who is now 73, and she still gets around the court better than some youngsters I know!

A Warm-up Is Very Essential

I perhaps should have added that your preparation before play needs to be proportionate to the level at which you plan to play if you are planning to have a very vigorous game, you need to spend more time preparing.

However, if you have a casual hit, you don’t need as much preparation. Nonetheless, I know many people who have had injuries to their ACL, Achilles, and more recently. None of them were over 30 years old, and all were very experienced players.

Warm-up isn’t the cure-all solution but treating your body like that machine that it is. If you drive a sports car, you have to put in the best fuel, oil, and regular check-ups.

Swimming is good for body stretching.

When playing league, I find swimming is great for toning, and running in deep water several times a week certainly builds up the auld cardio system and gives me all the stretching and muscle building I need. Then there is the old and tried and true method of match fitness: to play matches, preferably with a player above your own standard.

Shoulder Pains

Some people may get shoulder pains after playing badminton. The shoulder pains may actually be referred pain from the biceps (that muscle on your arm that bulges when people flex their arm to show off their muscle).

The problem is that if it gets tight, because the muscle inserts into the shoulder, it can cause very sharp pain on the inside, more to the front. If it is sore on the side of the back, that may be from rotator cuff weakness.

Don’t just take my word for it though, please see a physiotherapist. Stretching your chest muscles (pectoralis muscles) may also help, as they insert into the shoulder. You can probably find some good stretches for both muscles on the web.

Aging Bodies

The discussion is about aging bodies and badminton. If you are above 60 years old and training to become a good badminton player worthy of competing in seniors and masters events around the world. You will need to know what training is all about because when you are competing seriously in Open tournaments, you can be a training fanatic.

I can provide a list of my training regime for each week to anyone masochistic enough to follow it. Now I am that much older, I’m not training quite as hard physically and focussing more on skills and cunning (old and sneaky beats youth and enthusiasm any time).

However, as you get older, the preparation to play badminton seriously takes longer. Unless, of course, you have never stopped. In my case, I took about a 20-year break, so getting back is not easy, but I’m getting there. My body has undergone several repair jobs covering lower spine injuries and severe arthritis in the right knee and shoulder – left shoulder too, but that doesn’t matter.

Somebody may be very impatient with their bodies. It doesn’t look like or feel like what they think it should be where they may have the mentality of a 20-year-old, but their bodies don’t match.

There is no cure for your current condition as it is just “old age,” but I’m not about to give in to it and watch TV. You can be now retired. You may have an abundance of time to train and practice. So watch out for all you young guys (less than 70 years) “old and sneaky” is on the tournament prowl.

Quote From The Movie

A quote from the movie “The Program” in which the coach asked his player after having his bell rung: “You hurt or are you injured? If you’re hurt, you can play. If you’re injured, you can’t.”

You really have to listen to your body to know when to push through and when to stop. I’m arguably pretty fit for a dude my age (40), both cardio and muscle-wise. For the average badminton player, I’m probably a tad on the big side. Strength-wise, I’m arguably much stronger than average, especially in my upper body, but I work at it constantly and know when to rest.

I have a companion who has been after four knee surgeries. His knees snap, crackle, and pop when doing squats with only the bar. Add onto that a burst disc in his lower back, and doing heavy leg work in the gym is a thing of the past. One has to adapt when one gets older.

I agree that working to keep flexibility and muscle balance are key elements to longevity in the sport. Remaining active at all times ( when not healing) also helps. While I put away the badminton rackets in the summer, I still play squash several times a week, lift weights and walk/carry my bag when I golf. When I go back to badminton, I still ache the first few sessions, but it’s way less than if I were doing nothing.

I also tend to change workouts when I start playing badminton again. I tend to go mid-range weight mid rep, so I’m not overtaxing my muscles. If I go really heavy, things tend to hurt more, too high rep and fatigue takes over, leading to injuries.

As a badminton player, I learned a long time ago how important it is to work out and be fit and to stretch before playing. The other important part of a good foundation to prevent injuries doing what you love to do, play sports, is to learn the proper strokes.

Regardless of the relatively lightweight rackets, they can be very strenuous and cause these unnecessary injuries and overtime to become exacerbated. If at some point, the proper dynamics and mechanics are not learned and applied consistently during regular play, your longevity is seriously reduced. In addition, the quality and quantity of time spent on the court can become compromised.

I have benefited greatly from applying these principles and normally do not play much younger guys. I use my fitness and vast experience to frustrate them.

Trust me. I’m not bragging. I, in fact, get quite frustrated to see how many people hit technically incorrectly that I advise them when approached. Even the ‘birdies’ get damaged from incorrect strokes within a couple of minutes and normally would last five times as long if not abused.

These people don’t even realize what they are doing wrong, e.g., when you get an easy shot, try not to overreact and overhit. Your first smash should not be your hardest unless you had an absolute clear shot and win the point.

Even then, why ruin the bird(shuttlecock)? Tap it in. The first smash should bring a weak return because you placed it well on court as well on the body, and then your next one is yours to do what you will.

I wish everyone to stay injury-free, play technically correctly, and relax and enjoy even the longest and hardest rallies. You’ll usually come out on top! It’s a beautiful thing and ought to stay that way. Thanks for your time.

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