A warm-up programme designed to improve strength, balance, core stability, and muscular awareness has been found to halve severe injuries in female footballers, according to a new study.
John Brooks, an injury expert for the Rugby Football Union, says that all sportsperson should adopt a warm-up programme like this to reduce injury.
A research articled in the online edition of the British Medical Journal says that previous research into the effect of warming up on the risk of injury have focused on key warm-up elements—raising the core temperature, stretching the muscles used, and conducting movement specific exercises—but the effect on injury has been unclear to date.
Torbjorn Soligard and colleagues recruited 1,892 female footballers from Norway, and randomised them to perform either traditional warm-up exercises or the "11+" 20 minute warm-up intervention, which consists of slow and speed running, key exercises to improve strength and balance, and movements that focus on core stability, hip control and knee alignment.
The whole programme emphasises the importance of internal muscular awareness.
The researchers said that they did not find any dramatic difference in the number of lower leg injuries between the groups, but severe and overall other injuries had substantially reduced in the intervention group.
Brooks says that one of the most important findings of the study is that teams using the intervention programme sustained a lower incidence of severe injuries—which cause the most absence from sport, interfere with people''s lives, and place the greatest burden on scarce medical resources.
Since all of the participants did not perform the "11+" throughout the season as recommended, the researchers believe that the programme may reduce the injury even more with regular use.
Brooks insisted that health professionals should encourage anyone involved in sport to participate in similar warm-up programmes.