Should I Warm Up Before Exercise?


It has been standard practice for a long time to warm up before exercising, for example, going for a run. Before you leave the front door, stretching muscles on the porch has long been a staple of any ‘effective’ exercise regime. The same goes for warming down the muscles after a workout: after the run is finished it is generally considered the standard that the runner will stretch again to relax the muscles and prevent strain. Whether this is actually good practice, though, remains to be seen. It can be said that not warming up or down before and after a long-distance run does not increase the risk of injury at all.

The fact remains that injuries caused during long distance runs are a result of overuse or overload. At the end of the day, warming up is not going to increase your muscle’s threshold for use nor their ability to prevent strains resulting from trips, falls or other jarring movement. Load management and recovery are purported to be more effective at preventing injuries resulting from long-distance running. Your body needs to be conditioned to the run you do if it’s going to sustain itself throughout the workout.

On the other hand, warming up before high-intensity interval training has been shown countless times to reduce the strain and prevent injuries from occurring. There is very strong evidence that a comprehensive warmup prevents acute injuries in team sports or activities involving explosive acceleration. So, while it might not be necessary to complete a warm up before a long-distance run, it’s absolutely essential to do before high-intensity interval training.

Developing a warm up routine for high-intensity interval training should be done in consideration of the following evidence:

  • Some research shows that explosive warm ups (plyometric exercises) can improve running economies and help prevent injuries in explosive routines.
  • Holding a static position (isometric exercises) can help reduce pain in an injured tendon.
  • Holding long, sustained static positions is counterproductive because they temporarily reduce muscle output.

To conclude, warming up should definitely be done before high-intensity interval training. Also, while it is not essential before long-distance running, a warm up routine can help ease your mind into the ‘punishment’ sustained during the run. A warm up in any case should involve five to ten minutes of exercising at a slower rate than is sustained during the workout. It could be something as simple as easing into the first kilometre of your run.

Contact Erko Physio

With over 10 years of experience treating patients through recovery and rehabilitation, Erko Physio are the local experts when it comes to devloping warm up routines. Our Alexandria physiotherapy is easily accessible from Erskineville, Newtown and Marrickville too. If you need a physiotherapist in Alexandria, Newtown or Marrickville, trust the experts at Erko Physio to help you plan your workout with due care and attention to detail.