Often in our clinics, we treat sports injuries. Warming up correctly plays a vital part in preventing injuries and long-term health issues.
In 2018, a study was conducted to investigate the effects of a newly developed warm-up program and its potential to prevent injuries in organised football for children younger than 13 years of age. This study was the first to be conducted for children under 18 years olds.
The program was developed specifically for players under the age of 13 and the injuries commonly seen in this age group. The characteristics of injuries from a youth player to an adult player varies, for example the proportions of bone injuries and upper body injuries are more common in youth than adult players.
Participants of the study were split into two groups including a control group and an intervention group. The control group was instructed to train as per usual and the intervention group was instructed to warm up following the injury prevention program which included several different exercises as well as stretches.The warm up during the study was conducted 1or 2 times per week and is recommended to be integrated into training at least 1 time per week.
In order to determine the effectiveness of the warm up program,injury characteristics and football exposures were assessed using guidelines from football injury research.
The assessment includes injury severity, location, diagnosis and type. An injury was defined as a physical complaint sustained by a child during a training session or match resulting in the inability to continue play and or requires medical attention.
During the study considerable protective benefits were found for overall, severe and lower extremity injuries.
Some of the exercises included in the warm up study included; single leg stance with the objective of this task being able to remain standing on one leg without moving whilst throwing the ball to either a partner or onto a wall, the focus of this task is to maintain balance whilst completing additional tasks.
Other exercises incorporated were press ups, this includes keeping your body in as straight a line as possible from head to foot and tense your stomach and back, this is used to strengthen core and arm muscles. Start the exercise off bent over the ball and gradually make your way closer to the ground, eventually resulting in your forearms on the ground.
Single leg jumps were included as well, this exercise is used to strengthen leg muscles and improve balance and coordination. This is completed by balancing on one leg, jumping as far as you can, landing safely and keeping your balance until the next jump.This exercise is great to include within a training session as it is a warm up for the whole body.
Another exercise was the spiderman exercise, this involves starting by supporting yourself with your hands and feet on the ground with your bottom facing to the ground, place the ball in front of your feet.To make this exercise harder place one foot on the ball keeping your backside up and tensing your stomach and back and then gradually harden by placing two feet on the ball. This exercise is used to strengthen your core muscles and hamstrings as shown in the diagram.
The amount of days and sports participation lost for players due to injury were also significantly less in comparison to the control group by warming up correctly before training
Coaches believe that the programme can help to prevent injuries and benefit players performance. The results from this study showed that the overall injury rate was reduced by 48% compared to the control group players.
Additional injuries were found regarding match injuries and training injuries and the total number of days lost to injuries were less than half as a result of participating in the intervention warm up.
Warming up is essential when playing a sport to help prevent injuries from occurring.
The 11+ kids program should be implemented to reduce injuries and the potential negative effects on sport participation and long term health.