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Warming up and cooling down
Around the Academy:

A South African rugby player stretches before a training session
Stretching before exercise will loosen your muscles
Warming up and cooling down before and after every training session and competition is essential to playing safe.

There are four main areas to work on:

  • Warm ups should begin with easy aerobic activity, for example, jogging for 5 to 15 minutes.

    The aim is to increase the flow of blood around your body so that your muscles are ready for action.

  • Do some gentle stretching exercises.

    Make sure you stretch each of the main muscle groups you will use in training or competition.

    So if you're a butterfly swimmer, stretch your shoulder, back and neck muscles.

    Chelsea's Eidur Gudjohnsen and John Terry stretch in training
    All professionals warm-up before training

    These should last for between 10-15 seconds, the stretching part of the warm up should last for between 10-15 minutes.

  • Get into some strenuous running, swimming or cycling.

    Most games, like rugby, hockey and football, involve a lot of running.

    So you should do some short runs at half-to-three quarter speed, but never flat out.

    The aim of this part of the warm up is to stretch your muscles and joints, making them more flexible and less likely to tear.

  • Cooling down at the end of a training session or competition is very important to avoid injury.

    This is to help your body get rid of waste products that have built up in your muscles while you were exercising or playing.

    The cool down involves the first two parts of the warm up, light aerobic exercise and gentle stretching.

    Usually you don't need to complete the third part of the warm up during the cool down.


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