The importance of warm ups and stretching

With summer and warmer weather just around the corner, what better time to get out of hibernation and get moving.

While getting outside and exercising is definitely a good thing, it is also important to get moving the right way. This post will be helpful to those who are looking to get back into some form of activity. 

You might be lucky like me (touch wood!) and not have had too many injuries, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The best way that you can try and prevent injures- especially soft tissue- is to make sure you have done the right preparation before exercising.

First off, it is always important to start with a good warm up.

From my experience at sporting clubs, I know that this is something a lot of people don’t do well. I’m definitely guilty of this too. In my basketball team our warm up consists of taking pot shots from the three point line, chatting about the weekend and looking over at the other team to see how much taller/more athletic they are than us.

A good warm up will get you both mentally and physically ready for your exercise (1). Generally it will involve doing an activity which uses similar muscles and movements that you will be doing but at a lower intensity and slower pace. You only need to do this for 5-10 minutes making sure you start slow and gradually build the pace or intensity. Make sure that you warm up all areas of the body that you will be using- it’s no good just doing a light jog and then lifting heavy upper body weights! 

For weights training a good idea is to do a set of the exercise with a light weight and focus on your technique.

Once you’re nice and warmed up it’s time for a good stretch. Again you will want to make sure you stretch all muscles and areas of the body you are going to be using during your exercise. Stretching can not only reduce the likelihood of soft tissue injuries but can also help you feel less sore the day after and also improve your performance. 

There are two types of stretching, dynamic and static. The stretching most people are familiar with is static- think of your typical hamstring stretch where you sit and try and reach to your toes. Static stretching is great but evidence suggests it is best to do after exercise rather than just before, this is because it actually reduces the amount of force the muscle can produce and therefore reduces performance.

The second type of stretch is dynamic stretching, this is where you will take a joint through its movements, gradually increase the range of motion you perform. An example of this would be performing leg or arm swings. This type of stretching is great for performing before activity and may be similar to some of your warm up activities. The key is to make the movements as similar to what you will be doing as possible.

Now you’re ready to go!

Before you finish up though, there is one more important step- the cool down.

After you’ve finished your activity it is important to perform a cool down- this is usually what the footy players are trying to do when Brian Taylor starts walking around the rooms.

A cool down can help reduce muscle soreness following exercise and can also aid in recovery(2). This is where static stretching is most beneficial but make sure you aren’t pushing yourself too far. A nice slow walk is also a good way to cool down and of course don’t forget to make sure you remember to rehydrate.

Now you can go outside and start exercising the right way.


Blog by Damian Berenato, Osteopath at McKinnon Osteopathy. Damian is currently completing further study to be a level 1 strength and conditioning coach.

To book an appointment with Damian Click here or call on 9578 2436






  1. Sports Medicine Australia. (2014). Sports Medicine for Sports Trainers. Chatswood: Elsevier Health Sciences APAC.
  2. Brukner, P., Clarsen, B., Cook, J., Cools, A., Crossley, K., & Hutchinson, M. et al. (2001). Brukner & Khan’s clinical sports medicine (2nd ed., pp. 84-86). North Ryde NSW: McGraw-Hill Australia.

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