To Warm Up or not to Warm Up?

Having been an athletics coach for over thirthy years I know how important the warm up is to get muscles, heart and lungs prepared for excercise and to prevent or at least reduce the possibility of injury. Yet I find it amazing that there is some apathy towards warming up. When we are turning to walking football as a form of exercise, then you can tell we are all of a certain age: an age where it is even more important to proceed through a thorough warm up routine due to more limited flexibility and limitations in range of motion (how many of you can touch your toes from a standing position, for example?). 

Perhaps some clarity is required to underline the reasons why the warm up is so important, so here goes:  

  1. Increase blood flow to your working muscles, better preparing them for the additional workload to come
  2. Increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which  prevents you from getting out of breath to early or too easily
  3. Prepare your heart gradually for an increase in activity, helping you avoid a rapid increase in blood pressure.
  4. Prime your nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for exercise, which can improve the quality of your workout
  5. Improve coordination and reaction times
  6. Reduce the chance of soft tissue (ligament, tendon and muscle)  injuries by allowing your muscles and joints to move through a greater range of motion easily (and safely)
  7. Lubricate your joints for easier (and less painful) movement
  8. Increase blood temperature, which can allow you to work out longer or harder
  9. Prompt hormonal changes in the body responsible for regulating energy production
  10. Help mentally prepare you for the workout ahead, giving you a few minutes to get "pumped up" for a great workout! 

Ten very good reasons to take the time to warm up in my book. 

At Moulscoomb we are very fortunate that both Justin and myself insist on around eight minutes of warm ups, beginning with easy dynamic exercises and progressing through to some static stretching once our muscles have increased in temperature. You should also go through abother 2/3 minutes of  warm ups again after your tea break. Not all do, 

And what about at tournaments? Warm ups are even more important when you are playing outdoors, particularly in the winter. That is when cold muscles bursting into action are liable to scream "NO" and a subsequent muscle pull or tear leads to a frustrating period on the sidelines. Substitutes should also keep warmed up by jogging along the touchline or going through a routine every few minutes, whilst you await the call to replace someone else.

it's not worth the long time recovering from injury for the sake of a few minutes taken warming up. Make sure you do it every time.