Warming Up before Exercise – Download your free warm up program here

Physiotherapy and warming up

There are a lot of different ways that people warm up before exercise, or in the case of a lot of people DON’T warm up before exercise!  The role that our Physiotherapy and Performance Coach professionals play when working with our athletes in Rockhampton and beyond is to work with our clients to establish the best way for each person to get the most out of their session by performing an effective warm up.

This article is targeted at someone who goes to the gym, running, or any other recreational exercise rather than someone who is training for a specific sport or event.

Like everything, its easy to over complicate what to do in warm up.

According to a research study by Weldon and Hill (2003), which examined a multitude of research on the effectiveness of stretching as a warm up tool, they cite that the most common injury in exercise or sport is a partial or full tear or rupture of the muscle-tendon unit.  Considering that, and what sort of force it takes to disrupt a muscle-tendon unit, one needs to evaluate the type of warm up provided versus the activity provided.

Some Recommendations

These recommendations below are from some of the research I have looked at and also from my experience working with clients for over 15 years.

  1. Stretching – there is an overall poor research-based findings on the effectiveness of stretching as a warm up technique.
  2. It is universally accepted that warm up does activate a host of benefits including:
    • Temperature
    • Metabolic
    • Neural
    • Psychology-related effects, including increased anaerobic metabolism, elevated oxygen uptake kinetics and post-activation potentiation.
  3. Therefore, the type of warm up you do should have a direct relationship on what activity or exercise you are doing or are going to be doing.

So, what is a good warm up?

A general warm up could include:

5mins of general aerobic exercise. Matching the intensity of what you are doing so for example:

  1. If you are going on a 25km run, then warming up with a 1-2km run first to get your body temperature and cardiovascular system accustomed to the intensity of effort is a good idea.  As opposed to:
  2. If you are going to the gym to do just an upper body session, running may not be useful as a warm up whereas rowing or bodyweight resistance exercises may be a better use of time.

Warm up is a personal thing: Not everyone is the same as to what you feel does the job for you.  Some people like and hate running, so in sessions as a coach or trainer, I always try to accommodate individual differences where possible when warming up.

An example warm up for a whole body gym session could include:

  1. Aerobic warm up 3-5mins either rowing, or crawling pattern movements such as bear crawl, bird dog, push up variations.
  2. Dynamic stretching, foam rolling or any static stretch variations that are appropriate to your activity or that relate to any injury that you have had or have currently.
  3. Core strength variations – such as Bird Dogs, Front Bridge, Side Bridge, Back Bridge movements only for 10-20s as the goal is to ACTIVATE rather than FATIGUE your CNS and your muscle-tendon units in the body!
  4. If you have any shoulder problems – a particular focus for 2-5mins on rotator cuff activation exercises as prescribed by a Physiotherapist, Exercise Physiologist, Strength and Conditioning Coach or Personal Trainer is always something we recommend.
  5. If you have lower back concerns, previous or current injury or pain, I recommend getting warm up ideas from a qualified allied health professional that are suitable to your condition.

Sample Warm Up Program

Here is a program for general use.  If you have a current medical condition, or injury, or have had previous injury to your back, knee, ankle or shoulder especially please consult a Physiotherapy or other allied health professional prior to using this program.

How to contact us?

For more information, or for help with a customised program including what to do for warm up for you, then please contact us on 4927 8190 or email glenn@vectorhealth.com.au

  1. http://portalbiocursos.com.br/ohs/data/docs/56/53-_The_efficacy_of_stretching_for_prevention_of_exercise-related_injury_a_systematic_review_of_the_literature.pdf
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15438627.2018.1492390
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Courtney_Mcgowan/publication/282153814_Warm-Up_Strategies_for_Sport_and_Exercise_Mechanisms_and_Applications/links/565668af08ae1ef9297a04cc/Warm-Up-Strategies-for-Sport-and-Exercise-Mechanisms-and-Applications.pdf

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