Warm ups are a key component of preparing your body for physical activity and sport.
However, the type of warm up can often be debated. It might surprise you to know that stretching alone isn’t really considered a warm up and actually doesn’t offer any protective mechanism for future injury.
So, what should a good warm up look like?
A good warm up looks very similar to the event/sport that you are about to participate in. Start with low load movements and build them up so that they are replicating the activity as close as possible.
I’ve always found that a great example of this is during a warm up for Tennis. Observing Federer and Nadal, prior to a big final always follows the same pattern. They practice each and every shot they are going to play- starting with relatively low intensity and building up to a higher intensity (very close to match play). This allows muscles, ligaments, joints and the cardiovascular system to slowly get up to speed for when that first serve is hit down. It also means that they are very well prepared mentally having gone through all of their major strokes.
Another great example is Rugby Union. Front rowers need to practice a scrum. They do this with the aids of pads and machines during the warm up. However, you won’t find a winger anywhere near this- they will be busy working on other skills such as building up to sprints, catching high balls and working on changes of direction during running.
Now, I understand that we can’t always be doing elite level warm ups. Time restraints, lack of equipment and lack of coaching staff are all going to be factors. However, we are very fortunate that research groups are working hard to make solid, thorough warm ups available to people that are specific to their sports.
The FIFA 11+ is a fantastic resource that I have championed on numerous occasions because of its proven ability to reduce injury rates in soccer players.
Netball also has a fantastic Knee Program that is free to download and use at your local club.
As for Footy, league and other sports codes…. Well, you know that these are probably not an Englishman’s forte! However, using the principles above and pinching some ideas from the Netball and Soccer guides is probably a great place to start!
Thanks for reading,
The Physio Rooms Woodvale