Warm Up, Warm Down and Recovery

Warm up and warm down protocols are an important part of sports performance.  There has been much debate over the most effective method for game preparation, injury prevention and recovery.

Warm Up

  • Is designed to prepare the body for the game ahead (physically and psychologically)
  • Involves aspects of running, drills to warm up certain muscles and drills that mimic the skills of the game.
  • Current research supports an active warm up with little static stretching pre football.
  • Should take around 20 minutes in total including skills
  • Examples of exercises for the warm up include:
  1. Jogging and run throughs (slowly increasing speed)
  2. Buttock kicks and high knee running
  3. Bounding and hopping
  4. Leg swings and calf pumps
  5. Change of direction cone drills and speed drills eg: fancy feet

Warm Down

  • Is designed to slowly wind the body down from the game and to help in speeding up recovery for the next training session or game.
  • Usually involves much slower jogging, using a foam roller to release tension in the leg muscles, and static stretching of key areas such as the lower leg muscles and spine.  These stretches should be held for greater than 30 seconds each.
  • Can involve alternate activities such as cycling and swimming, as these can be less stressful than other weight bearing activity.
  • Injury Prevention exercises should compose a component of the warm down, particularly mid week and during the preseason. Eg: hamstring, calf, groin strength exercises
  • Should take around 15- 20 minutes in total.


  • A slow warm down is the first stage in recovery after a game.
  • Ice baths are another excellent method of speeding up recovery, especially after a physical game such as football.  We are yet to determine the most effective method for these baths but currently teams conduct protocols such as alternating 1 min in the ice baths and 1 min warm showers or 5 minutes straight into the ice bath.
  • The correct fluid replacement and food to refuel the body are also extremely important post exercise and aid in recovery.  This gives the cells nutrients for regeneration and fuel for further exercise.

myPhysioSA are Sports Physiotherapists in the Hills and we can be contacted on 1800 189 289 or email: david@myphysiosa.com.au

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