6 Tips for an Effective Sports Warm Up / Down
6 Tips for an Effective Warm Up / Down
Recent news reports and articles have suggested that some warm up routines can be harmful and have led to misunderstandings regarding the importance of a warm up and warm down routine for exercise, suggesting that stretches can in fact be harmful.
Dig a little deeper and you will see that the subject of stretches is a hotly debated one.
The following tips will hopefully shed some light on the best approach…
1 Dynamic stretching
Most physios would suggest that the best pre-exercise advice is to use dynamic stretching, that is, where the stretching involves movement, before exercise. Static stretching is not recommended as an appropriate form of warm up as some recent research suggests that static stretching may impair performance in sports such as running and cycling.
2 Make it functional
Make your warm up as functional as possible to fit with the type of exercise you are about to commence. For example, the warm up should use a bespoke approach for your sport, runners should warm up with gentle jogging which will use the same muscle groups that they are about to engage.
3 Tailor it
Tailor your warm up to suit YOUR needs. Just as no two athletes are the same, so no two warm ups should be the same. Warm ups need to be different for different athletes, allowing for differences in muscle flexibility, muscle length, force and fitness, so it is highly unlikely that if you play a team sport, that one warm up routine will fit all.
4 Don’t over stretch.
Most sports do not require the muscles to go to anything like the lengths of traditional static stretches, so work within the expected range of movement for your activity.
5 Variety is the key
Build activities into your warm up routines to minimise injury. Researchers in Norway found a 20 minute warm-up consisting of slow and speed running, strength and balance exercises and movements focusing on core stability, hip control and knee alignment resulted in fewer severe injuries in young female footballers.
6 Warm DOWN too!
Most serious athletes perform a warm down or active recovery following the conclusion of intense activity. The length of warm down generally varies but ranges from 5 to 15 minutes. Active recovery has been shown to remove lactate from the circulation more quickly than a passive recovery. Static stretching after exercise has been shown to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness – that aching soreness that you feel a day or so after a hard training session.
And don’t forget…..
The psychological aspects of a warm up and warm down routine must also be considered, assisting in preparation of the right mind-set for an event or competition.
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