How and why to warm up effectively

Warming up is vital in football, especially in winter. Doing it properly reduces the risk of suffering a muscle injury at the start of a match or training session.


Warming up: a waste of time? 

First of all, I recommend adapting your clothing to suit the temperature. If it's cold, remember to cover up. Keeping your muscles warm reduces the risk of injury at the start of training.  For example, you could wear a long-sleeved base layer, undershorts, and even gloves in the winter months.

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But clothing isn't everything

You need to adapt your warm-up to the intensity you plan to play at (the more intense your play, the more comprehensive your warm-up needs to be).

As the name suggests, the main purpose of the warm-up is to warm the body and prepare to exercise. Players' temperatures rise as the warm-up progresses. This should happen gradually, which is why it's important to warm up properly. Warming up the body should be accompanied by stretching the muscles, which need to be properly prepared to prevent injury. Excessive pressure on a cold muscle can cause injuries such as cramps, sprains, and other injuries. Warming up also gradually prepares the heart before exercise, increasing heart rate. Overall, the aim of the warm-up is to wake up the body and get it ready for exercise. A good warm-up reduces the chance of injury.


A typical warm-up

At the start of the warm-up, begin with a few low-speed laps of the pitch. I recommend running for around 12 minutes.

Then, do press-ups and other exercises that will exercise your muscles and joints. Circles are handy for setting up these types of exercises (see illustration on the left).

Next, do some sprints (around 10) over a distance of 10 or 15 metres.




Before warming up the adductors, move your legs in semi-circles, always moving from the inside to the outside, first to the right, then to the left. Do around 20 repetitions on each side. You can also jog the length of the pitch while doing vertical jumps every 5 seconds, for example.

And finally, end the warm-up with ball exercises. You could do some ball handling exercises, ground passes and cross passes, etc.You're now ready for your training or match!

I emphasise the importance of warm-ups because I know that we sometimes have a tendency to neglect them, particularly when young, but learning how to protect our body is important for all footballers. We play a contact sport with a lot of risks of injury, so it's best to avoid adding to these by neglecting your body. Sometimes all it takes is one sprint without a warm-up, or a kick that's too extended, to injure yourself, and often when it's a muscle injury it can take you out of the game for weeks.


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