THE WARM UP
Warming up is important because it prepares the body for physical activity. It gradually increases blood flow to the heart, avoiding the rapid - and potentially harmful - rise in blood pressure that would occur if you ran onto the field ‘cold’.
Warming up also increases the temperature of your muscles and makes them more pliable. This will boost your performance once the game starts, and also help you avoid straining or pulling a muscle.
A good warm-up should last for around 15 minutes and consist of the following three activities:
Start by doing some aerobic exercise, such as slow jogging, gradually building up intensity, to raise the body temperature. You should get to the point where your body is sweating slightly.
Next, spend some time practising the movements and activities you will perform during the game, eg short sprints, agility drills, passing and catching drills, tackling and scrummaging etc.
Finish off with some dynamic (ie, moving, not still) stretches. You should do these at gradually increasing speed, and they should mimic your on-field movements, eg leg swings, calf raises, lunges, squats etc.
Dynamic stretching helps prepare your joints by moving them through their entire range of motion. It also decreases muscle stiffness – which all helps reduce your risk of injury.
Dynamic stretching has a mental benefit, too, because it enhances your concentration and coordination.
"The best predictor of injury is recent injury. And the message from this is you don’t play injured. You make sure you get an injury treated properly, fully recovered and then get back on the rugby field."
Dr Graham Paterson – Former All Blacks doctor
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