The Importance of Warming Up Before Sport

What is a warm-up?

A warm-up takes place before the main physical activity. It is a low-level activity that should raise your body temperature and gradually increase demand on your body to prepare it for more vigorous activity.

Why is a warm-up important?

A warm-up is one of the most important parts of an exercise program. It not only prepares your body for more strenuous activity but it also helps to prevent injury to muscles that are more susceptible to injury when cold.

It aims to raise your total body temperature and muscle temperature to get your entire body ready for the activity ahead. By keeping your muscles warm you will prevent acute injuries such as hamstring strains, and by preparing your body steadily and safely you will also stave off overuse injuries.

What are the benefits of warming-up?

The benefits of a warm-up include:

  • Your mind and body are prepared and motivated for more energetic activity.
  • Your body’s core and muscle temperature are increased.
  • Your muscles will be loose and supple.
  • Getting your heart and respiratory rates moving faster ready for exercise.
  • Blood flow is raised to help deliver oxygen and nutrients to the working muscles faster.
  • Your body, muscles and tendons are ready for more strenuous exercise.

What are the dangers of skipping a warm-up?

If you go straight into high-level activity your muscles will be unprepared and you may experience muscle spasms. More seriously, you may suffer from sprained muscles and torn ligaments to fainting and heart attacks.

How long should a warm up last?

It is difficult to recommend specific intensity and duration of a warm-up. Most warm up sessions last between ten and thirty minutes to give your body the chance to gradually get ready for the main physical activity and for you to prepare mentally.

The duration and intensity of warm-up should be adjusted according to the temperature, your clothing and your fitness leevl. The higher the temperature and more clothes you are wearing the sooner your body will warm-up. You should then begin your main activity while you are still warmed-up, ideally within a few minutes.

What should a warm-up involve?

You will start with the gentlest exercise and build up to more energetic activities. Often people will start with a general warm-up and then move onto a sports specific warm-up and stretches.

General warm-up

The general warm-up consists of light activity and will be tailored to your fitness level and goals. You should feel warm, be sweating lightly, and have raised your heart and breathing rate after this.

Sport specific warm-up

The sports specific warm-up will lead you into the activity you'll be doing. You will also up the intensity of the activity at this point. For example, runners may start with a light jog or running drills depending upon their fitness level and goals.


Stretching activities can be included in your warm-up to move your muscle groups through the full range of movement required in your chosen activity, known as active stretching. You should stretch gently and slowly, to the point of mild discomfort but not pain.

Your muscles should be warm before stretching as cold muscles are more prone to injury, such as muscle tear or strain.


If you don’t warm up properly your body is more susceptible to injury during your chosen activity. If you do happen to have an injury whilst playing sport, then you can be assured that we offer rapid convenient appointments with physiotherapists and expert consultant specialists to assess, diagnose and discuss the best treatment plan for your condition.

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