Warming up, Stretching, Cool down – How long?

There is no doubt that time spent on Warming up, Stretching, Cool down – How long?

Warming up and cooling down will improve an athlete’s level of performance and accelerate the recovery process needed before and after training or competition.

Warm Up

Muscle Stiffness is thought to be directly related to muscle injury and therefore the warm up should be aimed at reducing muscle stiffness.

Warming up should at least consist of the following:

5 to 10 minutes jogging – to increase body temperature
10 to 15 minutes dynamic stretching exercises – reduce muscle stiffness
10 to 15 minutes general and event specific drills – preparation for the session or competition. e.g. for a runner
lower leg drills
Leg Drills
Dynamic Stretching are more appropriate to the warm up as they help reduce muscle stiffness. Static stretching exercises do not reduce muscle stiffness.

What are the benefits of a warm up?

Performance may be improved, as an appropriate warm up will result in an:

Increased speed of contraction and relaxation of warmed muscles
Dynamic exercises reduce muscle stiffness
Greater economy of movement because of lowered viscous resistance within warmed muscles
Facilitated oxygen utilization by warmed muscles because haemoglobin releases oxygen more readily at higher muscle temperatures
Facilitated nerve transmission and muscle metabolism at higher temperatures; a specific warm up can facilitate motor unit recruitment required in subsequent all out activity
Increased blood flow through active tissues as local vascular beds dilate, increasing metabolism and muscle temperatures
Allows the heart rate get to a workable rate for beginning exercise
Mentally focused on the training or competition
Cool Down

Cooling down should consist of the following:

5 to 10 minutes jogging/walking – decrease body temperature and remove waste products from the working muscles
5 to 10 minutes static stretching exercises.
Static Stretching exercises are more appropriate to the cool down as they help muscles to relax, realign muscle fibres and re-establish their normal range of movement. These stretches should be held for approximately 10 seconds.

What are the benefits of a cool down?

An appropriate cool down will:

aid in the dissipation of waste products – including lactic acid
reduce the potential for DOMS
reduce the chances of dizziness or fainting caused by the pooling of venous blood at the extremities
reduce the level of adrenaline in the blood
allows the heart rate to return to its resting rate
Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

Muscle soreness that occurs some 24 to 48 hours after intense exercise usually involves eccentric contractions. This causes increases in intracellular pressure that irritates the nerve endings, producing swelling and local pain. The soreness can be an indication of potential muscle adaptation to follow, but if it persists or is debilitating then it could indicate over training or large muscular tissue damage.