Basingstoke Sports Council

Serving Basingstoke's sporting community for over 25 years.

Warm Up and Cool Down

Warm Up 

Warm up exercises let the body to prepare for exercise by increasing blood flow to the muscles allowing them loosen up. Not only can this help to maximise the benefits of exercise it can also help to prevent against injury.  The main arrears that a warm up should cover are: 

  • Jogging to increase the body’s temperature
  • Dynamic stretches to reduce muscle stiffness
  • Specific stretches of the muscles that will be used during exercise

Cool Down

The process of cooling down after exercise is just as important as warming up. Cooling down: 

  • Allows the body to dissipate waste products such as lactic acid generated during exercise  
  • Reduces the chances of blood pools occurring in the areas where blood supply has been concentrated on during exercise which may cause light-headedness, sudden shortness of breath, weakness and cramps.
  • Reduces the amount of adrenaline in the blood
  • Allows heart rate to gradually return to a state of rest.

Whilst warm up and cooling down does not guarantee injuries will not occur during exercise it can significantly reduces the chances if carried out properly.


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:

Dynamic stretches are more appropriate to the warm up as they help reduce muscle stiffness. Static stretching exercises do not reduce muscle stiffness. For further information see the following articles:

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 hemoglobin 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 stretches 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 Delayed onset of muscle soreness  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.

  • 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
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