Warming up for exercise
Warming up is a great way to get the blood circulating and to prepare the body for physical activity. The warm up and cool down are vital components of every exercise routine. No matter whether you are a child, young adult or older or whether running, playing competitive sports or simply walking then a warm up and post exercise stretching routine is a great way to help prevent muscles soreness and improve flexibility during and after exercise.
Below is an example of a simple warm up routine that is suitable as a warm up for most activities. All of these warm up drills need to be done gently initially to ensure that they suit your personal circumstances or condition. If you are unsure please feel free to give Nathan or Paul a call on
- Standing Knee bends – Stand and hold onto the back of a chair or fence for stability. Bend one leg at the knee, bringing foot up behind you, as far as you can comfortably do and then return to the start position. Do 5-10 times on each leg
- Knee raises on the spot – Standing on the spot, bringing your knees up to hip height for 30-60 seconds
- Standing calf stretch – perform the calf stretch detailed below, but only hold for 5-10 seconds at a time. Do 3-5 on each leg
- Kick start your session doing the activity slowly, gradually increasing the pace or intensity to the level at which you want to exercise over a 5-10 minute period.
Nearing the end of your exercise session it is important to cool down gradually. Gradually decreasing the speed or intensity at which you are working sends a signal to the body to activate the rest and recovery process.
This is also the best time to stretch again, while your muscles are still warm. This is because your muscles are warm with good blood flow which improves the effects of the stretching routine. There are many different ways in which you can stretch depending on what is sore or tight but here is a general program that is again suited to most people and activity types.
Cool down and stretch out
- Calf stretch – Stand facing a wall/solid surface for support.
- Place both hands at chest level.
- Put one foot behind you, flat on the floor.
- Bend your front knee and lean in. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Soleus stretch – Start as per calf stretch with feet closer together.
- Keeping toes pointed forwards, bend the front knee and shift your weight over it.
- Holding this position, allow the back knee to soften (your heel may come up a little). Feel this stretch lower in the calf near the tendon. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Hamstring stretch – Stand with a foot elevated, knee slightly bent and hips square.
- Keeping your back straight tilt forward from the hips.
- Feel a progressive stretch in the back of your supported thigh. Hold 20-30 seconds.
- The stretch should be felt where the red arrow is pointing and not in the lower back.
- Quad stretch – Standing with one leg bent.
- Place your foot on a support behind you, at knee height or above (progressing to hip height).
- Stand upright and tuck your bottom in (pelvic tilt).
- Bend your supporting knee until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh WITHOUT losing the pelvic tilt. Hold for 20-30 seconds.
- Hip Flexor stretch – Kneel as shown in picture.
- Lean forwards and slightly to the same side as your front leg.
- Tilt pelvis slightly back and remain upright.
- Squeeze butt of kneeling leg slowly and smoothly.
- You should feel a stretch deep in the front of your upper thigh. If you don’t feel a stretch push forward from pelvis.
All of these stretches should be pain free. If you experience any pain then it is important to get yourself assessed by your physiotherapist.
The general nature of these exercises means they suit a variety of sports or activities. Naturally, the more a specific warm up can be tailored to the demands of your sport or activity, the better the program will be at preparing your body for that activity and at reducing the risk of injury.
At EHP Physio we can develop and demonstrate an exercise program specifically for you and your preferred activity. You can even have access to it online with videos and step-by-step instructions. If this is of interest please call the clinic on 9975 4906 and book a session for a PhysiTrack program.
If Soccer is your passion then you might like to explore the FIFA 11+ program. It is a comprehensive warm up developed by an international group of experts and has been proven to significantly reduce the chance of injury occurring in soccer players.If you are interested this program can be downloaded at http://f-marc.com/11plus/manual/
Likewise, if Netball is your thing then the KNEE program, developed by Netball Australia to help prevent injuries, can be viewed at http://knee.netball.com.au/