We outlined a potential warm-up template a little while ago. While warming up should be taken for granted by coaches, some coaches don’t implement correct warm-up procedures and as a result the risk of injury to the athlete remains elevated. The latest in a long line of research on warming-up and injury prevention is published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine by Soligard et al. (2008-2010).
These authors developed the 11+ programme for prevention of lower limb and trunk injuries in youth footballers aged 14 – 18. The warm up protocol used to prevent injuries is a structured multi-phased warm-up consisting of: 1) 8min running variation drills 2) 10min strength, plyometric and balance drills 3) 2min higher intensity running drills. The warm-up lasts a total of 20min and is progressive in terms of intensity. Interestingly, no stretching was included in the warm-up protocol.
Over 2000 players with an average age of 15 took part in the study. The study divided players into two groups: intervention (1320 players) and control (1220) players.
The results show that the risk of lower extremity injury (including severe and overuse injuries) decreased with the 11+ warm-up over over the course of a season. What we can take from this is that warming up works, it should last at least 15-20min when performed before vigorous exercise and should target multiple fitness components.
(The 11+ manual and corresponding research publications are available online for free here)