With such an important part of training being the warm up it is surprising that in 2019 the evidence is still mixed on exactly how we should warm up before we train, and the dosage and intensity.
Here are some things we do know:
Warming up won’t prevent you from injuring yourself if you are doing something your body hasn’t done for a while.
Your body is sensitive to sudden unaccustomed activity. Your body is a creature of habit. If you spike your exercise load by more than 20 to 30% of what it’s used to then you’re putting yourself at risk of injuring yourself. Eg going from 3 running sessions to 5 sessions per week or from 2 f45 classes to 5 classes.
Traditionally static stretches have been used as part of the warm up but research suggests static stretching by itself may be detrimental to how well we train. Simic et al. (2012) suggested that using static stretching as the sole activity during a warm up negatively impacted endurance and strength.
However when combined with an active warm up improved psychological readiness, preparation, and confidence in the training about to come.
I would recommend to do your stretching at the end of the warm up.
Ok so if static stretching isn’t good, what should I do?
Herman et al. (2012) concluded that, “effective implementation of an active warm-up (read on) can reduce lower extremity injury incidence“.
What is an active warm up and what should it include?
Your warm up should include some dynamic stretching, strengthening and balance exercises, sport-specific agility drills and jump and lands
The warm up needs to be incorporated in all training sessions to be effective not just before the big game!
A study by Thorborg in 2017 looked at the effectiveness of the FIFA 11 + (a series of exercises designed by a bunch of injury prevention experts) created for recreational soccer players over the age of 14. This was divided into running, strength and balance exercises. The study demonstrated a reduction in lower limb soccer injuries by 39%. Now this is pretty huge and if you play change of direction sports such as netball or soccer this is really useful. I would argue if you like F45, Agoga and other explosive gym classes this is also really useful.
So what was included in the 11Plus?
Below are some of the exercises
8 minutes of running including straight line running, circle running, running and jumping and quicker running to conclude
The plank 3 x 20 to 30 seconds
Side Plank 3 x 20-30 seconds each side
Single leg balancing on one foot 2 x 30 seconds
Squats 2 x 30 seconds
Walking Lungs 2 x 30 seconds
Vertical jumps 2 x 30 seconds
So there we have it. Don’t just do your static stretching as it may in fact be slightly harmful.
If you have always stretched and never had a problem consider a more active warm up before static stretching as we know it can help mentally prepare you for the training session you are about to do. If you don’t currently add stretching at the end of your warm than that is also fine. Potentially better.
Warm up every time you train rather than before big sessions only
No amount of warming up will stop you getting injured if you spike the amount of exercise you are doing by more than 20%
Let us know your thoughts below. Nick T