The purpose of a warm-up is to prepare the body for the demands of physical activity. A well-planned warm-up can assist in both mental and physical preparation of an individual and is beneficial in reducing possible injury risk.
Low to moderate intensity aerobic activity (such as a jog/cycle) is necessary for increasing muscle temperature, which benefits the range of motion around joints and neurologically prepares the body by increasing nerve pulse rate. Static stretching is a large part of many warm-ups. However, several studies have found that static stretching can be detrimental to sporting performance, inhibiting balance, reaction time as well as strength and power activities.
Dynamic stretching has been shown to have a positive effect on performance. Taylor et al (2009) found that a dynamic warm-up resulted in better sporting performance (measured via vertical jump height) compared to a static warm up. This does not mean that static stretching should be dropped entirely as it plays a role in mobility and flexibility. Taylor et al (2009) found that when static stretching is combined with sports specific warm-up drills (skills-based movements and dynamic movements) there was no detrimental effect seen.
The RAMP method (Raise, Activate and Mobilise and Potentiate) is a great way of structuring your warm-ups and is applicable to general gym training and specific sporting warm-ups.
Raising of heart rate, temperature, respiration and blood flow through either jogging or in sporting terms doing light skills work (for example game of touch rugby).
Activate and Mobilize:
This section will depend on needs of an individual (i.e. focussing on legs on leg day). The idea of this face is to work on dynamic movement patterns needed for a particular sport/ event instead of isolated movements. It is the role of the S&C coach to determine what muscles need to be activated and what exercises will allow that.
This is where exercises become more specific to the sport or activity to follow. For example, sprints will perform sprinting drills, working into small sprints, then longer sprints of increasing intensity. The aim is to raise the intensity to near the performance seen at full.
• Behm D, Bambury A, Cahill F, Power K. Effect of acute static stretching on force, balance, reaction time, and movement time. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004;36:1397–402
• Bishop D. Warm up. II. Performance changes following active warm-up and how to structure the warm-up. Sports Med 2003;33: 483–98
• Fradkin AJ, Gabbe BJ, Cameron PA. Does warming up prevent injury in sport? The evidence from randomised controlled trials? J Sci Med Sport. Jun;9(3):214–20 2006.
• Jeffreys I. Warm up Revisited- the ‘ramp’ method of optimising performance preparation.
• Power K, Behm D, Cahill F, Carroll M, Young W. An acute bout of static stretching: effects on force and jumping performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004;36:1389–96
• Taylor K, J.M Sheppard, H. Lee, N Plummer (2009). Negative effect of static stretching restored when combined with a sport specific warm up component. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Vol 12, pages 657-661.