Is ‘a lap round the pitch’ a sufficient warm up?

As sports men and women we all know that warming up should always be performed before any physical exercise. When performing high intensity activities surely a warm up needs to hit this intensity!!

So why do so many of us think ‘a lap round the pitch is a sufficient warm up’

It is known that warming up before sports is so often overlooked and not always undertaken properly if at all.

When you do warm up can you honestly say you have ;

  1. Warmed your body up properly?
  2. Prepared your muscles for the activity you are about to undertake?

Not sure? Let’s take a further look into the importance of warming up.

How warming up can protect you from injuries.

Before performing any sort of warm up our bodies are stiff. Warming up will help get the blood moving around your body and to the specific regions you are working. Your tissues and ligaments will warm and become more flexible.

Your joints are lubricated with fluids and cartilage. Muscle is bound in Fascia which is stiff before being warmed up. Your joints are very sensitive structures and are lubricated with fluids, cartilage, and other materials.

We use the phrase ‘warm up’ as essentially this is exactly what we are doing – we are warming up our ligaments, muscles and joints. You are preparing and activating the muscles for higher intense activity.

The more the right muscles are working , the more flexible and less stiff you are the lesser chance of inflicting an injury.
Some of our most important muscles for running , our Gluteal’s need a kick start to activate when they are needed.

How should I warm up before sports?

Over time and experience you will be able to build up the perfect warm up routine for your sport. The beginning of your routine will be very similar to other sports but then you should incorporate sport specific warm up exercises.

General warm up

  • 5 minute moderate intensity run (NOT A JOG)
  • Dynamic stretches – eg. Squats , lunges, high knees and many more but all on the move and active.
  • Some isolated static stretches (though not essential in the warm up stage) – eg. Hamstring stretches
  • Sport specific muscle activation exercises – exercises to activate the specific muscles in the correct pattern that will be required to work hard for your sport
  • Progressive increase in intensity – eg. Progressive sprints . (you should never go into a game situation before having done at least 4 100% short sprints)
  • Sport specific skills – eg. Ball games – passing over short distances and increasing the distance progressively