Warm up Guidelines

One question that constantly arises with all forms of competitive sport is “what is the best way to perform a suitable warm up?” In itself this is a difficult and multi-faceted question to answer as a good warm-up should encompass injury prevention strategies, provide physiological readiness and sports-specific skills and drills in a manner that increases in intensity up to the performance of the sport.

Currently, many warm up strategies are based purely on word of mouth and not so much on actual science. So with that in mind what does the current scientific evidence base recommend in regards to warming up?

  • Static stretching – often regarded as a standard aspect of any good warm-up, recent literature reviews have indicated that performing static stretches prior to an event may actually result in small (but functionally significant!) decreases in strength and explosive power. There is also limited evidence to suggest that static stretching will result in injury prevention during sporting participation. So does that mean static stretching is completely redundant? Consistent static stretching will result in improved flexibility which is a key factor associated with long term injury prevention.

Take home message – save static stretching for post-game and recovery. However if the only time you can stretch is prior to a game then it is still better than nothing! Hold each stretch for approximately 30 seconds.

  • Dynamic stretching – In contrast to static stretching, dynamic stretching is not associated with strength or performance deficits, and actually has been shown to improve dynamometer-measured power as well as jumping and running performance. Simple active techniques such as leg raises, arm swings and hip rotations are all safe and effective methods of warming up.

Take home message – completing 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic movements prior to skill-specific exercises should be incorporated into every warm-up.

  • Skill specific exercises – as there is a massive variation between the demands of each individual sport it is difficult to provide concise information about particular drills. Take the aspects of the sport you are playing and incorporate them into the warm up in a graduated manner. For example a football warm up should involve short distance passing initially and building up to higher intensity activities such as shooting, crossing and high intensity dribbling.

Here are examples of some sport specific warm-up guidelines:

FIFA 11+

The Knee Program

AFLs Prep-to-Play Warm Up

If you or your team are interested in a more comprehensive, sports-specific and tailored approach to warming up this coming season contact Tailor Made Physiotherapy on 9481 9856.