Consultant – Orthopaedic Surgeon
Speciality interests include:
Lower extremity: trauma, sports surgery, knee, patella dislocation, tendon problems, foot and ankle surgery, and the management of degenerative joint disease in younger patients.
Visiting on Sep 21-22, 2019Request an Appointment
What’s the best way to warm up? Should I stretch before or after activity? And the questions keep rolling in; all pretty much the same, same but different.
So, let’s get started.
When it comes to a proper warm up, one would usually incorporate light activity, sport-specific drills and movement, range of motion movements, and stretching. Oh yes, the stretching- we’ll come to that in a bit.
Essentially we are aiming to prepare our body for whatever activity we are about to undertake. Said activity will be at a higher intensity than the warm-up.
The following are 10 reasons why a proper warm-up will help you throughout your workout1,2:
The major debate that comes up with respects to warming up is whether it should incorporate static stretching or dynamic stretching/movements?
Let’s define each.
Static stretching- consists of holding a stretch in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds (Example- holding a standing quad stretch).
Dynamic stretching/movement- consists of functional based exercises that use sport specific movements to prepare the body for movement. It involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach and speed of movement to the limits of your range of motion. Each movement is usually done 10-12 times in a controlled manner (Example- dynamic leg swings).
So, which one should be incorporated into your warm up?
Before diving headfirst into it, let me start by saying that quite a bit of research has been done on this topic. It is possible to find research that supports static stretching, dynamic warm-ups, either both combined or no warm up at all. More often than not, the research seems to show that dynamic warm-ups should be done prior to your workouts and static stretching is best-suited post work out.
Looking at multiple studies conducted on professional athletes and national level athletes it was found that warm-ups with dynamic stretching and movements lead to improvement in power, muscle force, agility and speed. This can be due to an increase in muscle temperature and similar patterns of motion exercise3,4,5.
What’s considered a good warm up?
I would personally recommend the FIFA 11+ program as a warm-up (http://www.yrsa.ca/pdf/Fifa11/11plus_workbook_e.pdf). FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association A.K.A “those soccer guys”) dumped a ton of money, time and effort into developing and researching a sequence of exercises that should be incorporated into the beginning of an exercise session. The FIFA 11+ and focuses on core training, neuromuscular control and balance, plyometrics and agility.
Overall, the FIFA 11+ is a pretty good base for warming up, it can be shortened, lengthened or tailored to your activity of choice. You just need to be a bit creative. And, it works. A few studies done in Europe have shown that following the FIFA 11+ there was an 11.5% lower incidence of match injuries, a 25.3% lower incidence in training injuries and a 27% lower incidence of non-contact match injuries6. Those numbers are pretty good!