Why Warm-up?

By Randy Goodman (@RGSportsPhysio)

A proper warm-up is important if you want to perform your best and stay healthy and injury free. It is also important that you do the correct type of warm-up to be effective in your practice or game.


Research has shown that a dynamic warm-up that includes activities to increase your heart rate, functional movement, and sport specific movement not only reduces injury but improves performance. In a study at University of North Carolina, when athletes performed a dynamic 15 minute prior to activity, it was shown to increase their flexibility, strength, and vertical jump prior to their participation in sport. In fact, a proper warm-up has been shown to help psychological performance as well. Often, when a team comes our “flat” in the first period of a game, it can be linked to their poor warm-up prior to the start of the game.

Out with the Old

A recent study at Edinburgh University reviewed the current research around the world on stretching effects on performance. It showed that prolonged hold stretches prior to activity reduce performance in sport specific skills.

Reduce Injuries

From an injury prevention perspective, there is a substantial amount of research that shows a proper warm-up reduces injury risk. FIFA created a warm-up program, called “11+”,  to prepare soccer players for sport with a goal of reducing injuries. They have shown through research that if this dynamic warm-up is performed prior to practice and games, it will reduce the number of player injuries by 30-50%. 

What’s Important to Include?

The components of a good warm-up include aerobic activity, dynamic stretching, multi-joint movement, and sport specific activity. Warm-ups are done off the ice prior to putting equipment on. This starts with a gentle jog or activities such as skipping, or jumping jacks etc. This is done for about 5 minutes to get the heart rate and core body temperature increased. Then a series of short stretches, held for 2-3 seconds and repeated multiple times are used to stretch the muscles used in the sport. This is followed by more advanced multi-joint movements such as walking lunges with upper body rotation. Then the warm-up is progressed to things such as fast feet drills to increase the “awakeness” of the neurological system.

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