Warming Up and Cooling Down are Essential for Maximum Performance and Injury Prevention


A proper warm up is essential to the performance and health of both sprinters/jumpers and distance runners.

  1. Distance runners may start warming up as long as 1 hour before their event.  Recent research suggests that sprinters spend less time warming up, even as little as 20-30 minutes (http://www.ucalgary.ca/knes/news/warmup), but the warmup should be thorough in any event.
  2. Distance runners should check with their coaches on the proper warmup for their specific event.  There are many good and proper warm up techniques and every training program is unique.  For the sprinters and jumpers, your warmup should encompass the following:
  3. Wear heat-retaining clothing (compression gear at the least on a warm day but sweats and compression gear combined are best).
  4. Start gently.  Spend at least 10 minutes going from walk to jog and then perform some exaggerated arm and leg motion.  The arm and leg motion can include arm swings, standing high knees, and leg swings against a fence.
  5. About 10-15 minutes should be devoted to our usual dynamic flexibility repertoire: A skips, B skips, high knees, butt kicks, light bounding,  slide steps, karaoke, and acceleration.  At the end of this time, you should be sweating and ready.
  6. Research shows that one 150m burst at 95% at the end of the warmup puts the finishing touch on a good warmup by taking the body thru its maximal range of motion and primes the energy system for competition.  If you have already competed in an event, eliminate this step.
  7. Keep your sweats on in the bull pen.  Keep your sweats on as you are directed to the starting line.  Keep your sweats on as you set your blocks.  Take your sweats off when the starter or clerk directs you to do this.
  8. Static stretching can be performed after the initial warmup period but it must be done much more gently than at the end of all competition or at the end of practice.  Stretch just to the point where you feel a stretch and hold only for 1 to 2 seconds.  Don’t bounce.  Static stretching can take away from performance if done incorrectly, so be very careful.
  9. Use a foam roller to massage your legs after the warmup but while waiting for your event.


Cool down is equally important.  Don’t walk off of the finish line to start looking for the sign-out sheet.

  1. The purpose of a cool down is to remove the wast products built up during your event and to prevent injury and reduce soreness.
  2. Cool downs are performed after one event but before warming up for the next event, or they are an end-of-meet regiment. 
  3. You must keep your heart rate above the resting rate so that your body’s circulation and lymphatic systems can efficiently remove the lactic acid and other waste products.
  4. Wear heat-retaining clothes during the cool-down.  Get out of your competition shoes and into your trainers.
  5. For sprinters, it’s more than just jogging.  You should include exaggerated arm swings and leg motions at the start of cool down and move from jogging to walking.
  6. Use a foam roller to massage yourself but, as always, work the roller towards the heart.  For example, start the roller at the ankle and work to the knee if you are massaging your calf.  Don’t roll back and forth—one direction only.
  7. Use the cool down time to reflect on your performance.

For more information on sprinter/jumper warmup and cool down:  http://www.athleticsweekly.com/featured/sprinting-warm-cool-1538/

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