Warm Up and Cool Down
There is no doubt that time spent on warming up and cooling down will improve an athlete's level of performance and accelerate the recovery process needed before and after training or competition. As a result, the coach must encourage the athlete to regard the warm up and cool down as an essential part of both the training session and competition itself.
Research work by McNair (2000) and Knudson (2001) suggests that the use of dynamic stretches - slow controlled movements through the full range of motion - are the most appropriate exercises for the warm up. By contrast, static stretches are more appropriate for the cool down.
Muscle stiffness is thought to be directly related to muscle injury and therefore the warm up should be aimed at reducing muscle stiffness.
Warming up should at least consist of the following:
Dynamic stretches are more appropriate to the warm up as they help reduce muscle stiffness. Static stretching exercises do not reduce muscle stiffness. For further information see the following articles:
A study by Hadden et al. (2014) compared the effects of static vs. dynamic stretching on explosive performances and repeated sprint ability after a 24-hour delay. They found that static stretching of the lower limbs and hip muscles had a negative effect on explosive performances for up to 24 hours post-stretching whereas dynamic stretching had a positive effect on explosive performances.
What are the benefits of a warm up?
Performance may be improved, as an appropriate warm up will result in an:
Cooling down should consist of the following:
Static stretches are more appropriate to the cool down as they help muscles to relax, realign muscle fibres and re-establish their normal range of movement. These stretches should be held for approximately 10 seconds.
What are the benefits of a cool down?
An appropriate cool down will:
The following references provide additional information on this topic:
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The following Sports Coach pages should be read in conjunction with this page: