Warm-Up and Cool Down
Time spent warming up and cooling down may help improve an athlete's performance and accelerate the recovery process needed before and after training or competition. As a result, the coach may wish to encourage the athlete to regard the warm-up and cool-down as an essential part of both the training session and the 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 the warm-up should reduce muscle stiffness.
Warming up should perhaps consist of the following:
Static stretching exercises do not reduce muscle stiffness. Dynamic stretches are more appropriate for the warm-up as they help 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 harmed explosive performances for up to 24 hours post-stretching. In contrast, dynamic stretching had a positive effect on explosive performances.
Remember, the objective of a warm-up is to prepare the athlete for the planned session. If you undertake event-specific drills where you conduct dynamic limb movements that replicate the planned activity movements, starting slowly and building up to the speed of movement required for the session. Consider if you have also performed an appropriate warm-up at the same time.
What are the benefits of a warm-up?
Performance may be improved, as an appropriate warm-up could result in:
Cooling down could consist of the following:
What are the benefits of a cool down?
An appropriate cool down could:
Research by Van Hooren et al. (2018) found that based on the evidence currently available, active cool-downs (dynamic) are largely ineffective for improving most psychophysiological markers of post-exercise recovery, but may nevertheless offer some benefits compared with a passive cool-down (static).
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