24 August 2011

How to warm-up effectively

A structured warm-up should consist of progressive activities and dynamic flexibility and followed by specific movements that are close to the motor mechanics of the sport.

Warming up before training or matches is one way to prevent injuries.  

Why you should warm-up

  • Assisting in injury prevention by executing functional movements. Functional movements are any movements that are normally done within the sport and are replicated in the warm-up at different speeds. Examples include straight-line running, stepping, jumping, accelerating, jumping for a ball, falling down, getting up, and backwards running.
  • Physical preparation
  • Mental preparation.

  • Increased body temperature: an increase in body temperature will cause a slight sweat on the forehead. As soon as this happens, one can be sure that an optimal core temperature (the internal temperature of the body) has been reached and that there are other physiological benefits which accompany an increase in body temperature.

  • Increase in muscle elasticity(elastic ability / stretching ability of the muscle): a warm muscle can move through a larger range of motion at a higher speed compared to a cold muscle.

  • Specificity(Muscular movements within specific activities): specificity in both the coaching drills and in the warm-up is crucial. For example, 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 grids and exercises represent attacking and defensive situations in rugby. By completing these drills, the player mimics the exact movements needed for the match and is thus physically prepared for the 1-on-1 and 2-on-1 demands.
  • Stimulates the cardiorespiratory(heart and lungs) and Central Nervous Systems (CNS): the cardiovascular system and the central nervous system (the network in the body that transmits messages to and from the brain and muscles) is the body’s ‘engine’ and needs to be in excellent condition to send messages back and forth, and to generate ‘horsepower’ for the needs of the sport. The warm-up prepares these systems to function optimally during the coaching session or match.
  • Improved muscle coordination: Muscle coordination requirements in rugby are similar to those of gymnasts and circus experts, who also have to do more than one movement at a time. A circus juggler handling 3-5 balls at once is a good example of hand-eye coordination. In the case of muscles, it is important to have muscle synergy in achieving movement goals.  Warmer muscles are better coordinated than cooler muscles.
  • Improved reaction time due to the stimulation of the CNS:there are many examples of attacking and defending situations in a rugby match where improved reaction time is advantageous for performance.
  • Energy can be produced at a faster rate: a consequence of an increased body temperature, improved cardio-respiratory and CNS functioning, muscle elasticity and increased blood flow which occurs with warming up, results in an increased metabolic rate. This makes it easier to suddenly accelerate energy demands, as may occur at the start of a high-paced game.

  1. Passive: warming up using external sources such as a shower, warm bath, bean bag, etc. This technique is best used in injury rehabilitation, where no active movements are needed for warming up the muscle.
  3. Active: warming up by completing active movements on the field, creating an increase in core temperature and inducing many other physiological benefits. This warm-up can also be sport-specific if the movements during the warm up simulate the movements during training or competition. For example, rugby-specific movements such as jumping, stepping, catching, tackling, kicking, passing, accelerating and decelerating are used during the warm-up.
  5. General: involving the whole body by completing activities that require most of the muscles to function (jogging, cycling) with effects on the heart, lungs and blood vessels. It does not allow for very specific movement patterns.

  1. Static muscle stretching
  2. Cardiovascular activity, to promote the circulation of blood and for the heart to return to a resting state.




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