EVIDENCE-BASED WARM-UP ROUTINE
Written By: Vincent Turpin, PT
Q. Does warming up before training prevent injuries?
Q. Can specific warm up exercises help you avoid specific injuries?
If you decide to peruse the literature, there is a lengthy debate and inconsistency to a warm up’s efficiency and potential for injury risk reduction. Heck, some research has even suggested that a warm up does not prepare your body at all!
As in many aspects of sports, it is imperative to inspire yourself from other sports and experts in their field. Borrowing ideas, drills and interventions are key to ensure that your concepts and ideas consistently evolve. Finding a proven warm up routine which reduces injury risk has only one proven candidate: The FIFA 11+.
WHAT’S THE FIFA 11+?
The FIFA 11+ was developed by a consortium of experts in injury reduction and physiology. They created a tool for all ages and skill levels to reduce common injury occurrences in soccer (or football, depending where you’re from ;). Open the link here https://www.yrsa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/pdf/Fifa11/english.pdf while we discuss how it works!
How can you use the FIFA 11+ on your own?
There are three sections to the program. Understanding each section is crucial before performing the 15 exercises.
Running exercises - 8 minutes. Very straightforward.
Strength, plyometrics and balance exercises - 10 minutes. It requires a bit of trial and error to determine your current physical level (1, 2 or 3). You can be at a different level for the same exercise as long as the exercise is challenging enough. Tip: a challenging exercise is one where you’re unable to carry a conversation with someone!
Running exercises - 2 minutes. This is the activation phase which concludes the FIFA 11+ warm up.
This is cool, but how do we adapt this to be rugby specific?
In order to do this we need to identify the demands of the game and see what is lacking in the FIFA 11+.
Rugby is a full contact sport where numerous encounters occur when the body is, more often than soccer, in a flexed position.
In addition, there are more lateral movements and start and stop incidents. These movements must be reflected in the warm up routine. Here are the specific modifications:
Exercise 4 can be replaced with grapevine, karaoke and lateral running in groups of two (mirroring each other).
Exercise 5 can be modified to represent contact more accurately in the realm of rugby. Add in scrum type exercises (1 v 1, 2 v 2).
Exercise 7 can be modified to include the copenhagen adduction exercise. If you have ever tried this, you would know how taxing this is on your hips!
Exercise 10 should be performed in the last iteration of this series. The contact element and dynamic stability is paramount in rugby.
Exercise 13 is modified to start the sprint lying on your front (or belly). Players should sprint across the pitch from the ground. This is to mimic the need of rising to your feet after a tackle on the pitch.
Q. Does warming up before training prevent injuries? It could.
Q. Can specific warm up exercises help you avoid specific injuries? No.
Did you notice how nowhere in this article I mentioned injury prevention? Absolutely intentional.
The fact of it is, in the perspective of a study, it is impossible to prove that an intervention will prevent a specific injury!
The FIFA 11+ has been proven to reduce the overall injury burden for teams who have implemented the warm-up as opposed to their usual injury rate, and when compared to teams who have not implemented the program.
The real question is: how can YOU implement this in your warmup routine? First is identifying which sport you practice and what loads, body parts and systems you are using the most (endurance vs explosiveness). From here, you can pick the elements from the routine which emulate YOUR activity most. Give it a try and reach out if you have any questions!
Written by Vincent Turpin, Registered Physiotherapist.
Photo: Lahore Cup Finals, Methven, New Zealand