Are Warm-Ups Worth the Effort?

Most physiotherapists, personal trainers and coaches firmly believe that a good warm-up is essential to reduce your chance of injury, and prepare your body for the activities to follow. But has this injury reduction benefit actually been proven in science?

Warm Up
In a recent research review published in The Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, academics from Monash University in Melbourne reviewed studies that looked at this question. Surprisingly, over the past 40 years, only a handful studies have looked at the injury reduction benefit of a warm-up.
Of the five studies examined, three supported using a warm-up to reduce injury, whilst the remaining two did not.
The Monash researchers went on to conclude that:

  • The three positive studies emphasised general exercise to increase body temperature, while the two negative studies focused on stretching warm-ups.
  • There wasn’t enough evidence to either conclusively endorse or recommend against routine pre-exercise warm-ups to prevent sports injuries. However, the weight of evidence suggested that warm-ups involving general exercise did decrease injury risk.
  • Further support for warm-ups comes from a more recent 2008 Norwegian study. This concluded that a warm-up programme reduced the risk of severe injuries, overuse injuries, and injuries overall.

Despite the lack of research material, we still suggest that you complete a thorough pre-exercise warm-up, which should involve:

  • 5-20 minutes in total.
  • General activity to increase your basic body temperature, followed by some more specific range-of-motion stretching that replicates the events to follow.
  • A series of balance-related activities to prepare your sensory receptors for the tasks to follow.
  • Gradually increasing intensity that becomes more specific and “game-like” as the training session or game approaches.

For assistance with your pre-exercise warm-up talk to one of our physiotherapists at BodyFit Howick.