Exercise in young children and adolescents is super important not only for their physical well-being but also their social development. However, the downside is competing in sports often comes with an increased risk of injury. To help reduce this risk kids can perform a simple warm-up before playing sport. A recent study has found that a warm-up program is an effective method in decreasing injury risk in children and adolescents.
First, we should run through specifically what it is meant by a warm-up. It is defined as ‘a series of physical exercise performed before more vigorous exercise’. The study included either general or specific warm-ups that were quite active (I.e. jumping jacks) rather than passive (I.e. static stretching). The most common warm-up interventions that were used were strength-based exercises and aerobic based exercises.
The study pooled data from about 15 studies, that included 21,576 participants suffering from 3910 injuries over 110.5 months. It found that those people that conducted a warm-up before playing sport reduced their injury risk by a significant 36%.
So why is this the case? Why does doing a few balance and strength exercises help to decrease the injury rate for kids? Kids are growing very quickly, and sometimes their muscles take a little bit of time to catch up. Helping to kids to both strengthen their muscles and acquaint them to their growing bodies reduces the likelihood of injury.
Examples of some of the exercises that could be included a warmup could be:
- One legged squat
- Box jumps
- Lateral jumping
- Change of direction running drills
- Single leg stance drills with a partner
Of course the best warm up program is specific to the sport that you are actually playing, so make sure to tailor your program to fit the person and their chosen activity.
Ding L, Luo J, Smith DM, Mackey M, Fu H, Davis M, Hu Y. Effectiveness of Warm-Up Intervention Programs to Prevent Sports Injuries among Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(10):6336.