The purpose of this project was to observe current warm-up practices in snowboard athletes and evaluate their physiological impact before competition.
An observational design was used to monitor 4 athletes (2 female) at an Open National Snowboard Cross Championships. Activity patterns, core temperature, heart rate (HR), and time between warm-up and competition were measured. Athlete ratings of thermal comfort (TC) and thermal sensation (TS) were recorded before competition.
Significant barriers and challenges to an optimal warm-up included delays, environment, and logistics. Time gaps between structured warm-up and competition start time were in excess of 1 h (median = 68.8 min). Median average HR for 10 min (HR10) did not exceed 120 beats/min in the hour preceding competition, suggesting a suboptimal warmup intensity. Athletes rated their TC between comfortable and slightly uncomfortable and TS as neutral to slightly warm before the start of qualifications and finals.
The observations of this project suggest significant gaps in current warm-up strategies used in snowboarding. These include inadequate general aerobic warm-up (based on intensity and duration), excessive time between warm-up and competition, and lack of a consistent and structured warm-up protocol. Future work is needed to evaluate the effectiveness of different warm-up strategies on muscle temperature and performance while determining the optimal length of time between warm-up and competition.
The authors are with the Human Performance Laboratory, Sport Service MAPEI, Castellanza, Italy.