As the soccer season has commenced, it is known that avid players will be hitting the pitch straight after work or school. Although injuries in sport can sometimes be unavoidable, giving yourself time to warm up prepares your body and is vital. Here are key pieces of information on how to warm up properly.
Studies have found that team that warm up properly reduce their injury rate by 34%.
There is a general consensus now that warm ups should be dynamic rather than holding stretches as done in the past. However, holding stretches has been shown to be detrimental to performance and may increase the injury risk rather than reduce it. Too many people tend to go from sitting at work or school and straight to a game with no warm up, which can be a problem if you are trying to go from 0-60 sprinting with the muscles being cold.
Generally a warm up should include:
- Cardio warm up – jogging around the pitch.
- Range of movement drills – kicking heels to buttocks, high knees, opening and closing the gate (hip stretch), going through kicking range of movement.
- Agility warm up – dribbling, side stepping opponents/cones.
- Sprint/plyometric warm up – mini sprints building intensity to 100% speed. The plyometric part should include some jumping and landing to prepare for the game.
Most non-contact injuries occur during acceleration or jumping/landing, so this is key to prepare for at the same intensity you will play the game at. It may seem like a chore but it will keep you injury free and sustain your playing career in the long run!