Running Injuries in Team Sports pt. 1: Warm Up

By Nolan Rufa PT, DPT, CSCS

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Note: This is the first part of our Returning to Injuries in Team Sports series. For Part 2, click here.

The dreaded Warm Up. Warming up is something we know we need to do, but never want to do it. Part of it is that we aren’t sure exactly what to do so we spend either too much or too little time prepping for the day’s work. The issue with most warm ups is that they are boring and feel like a waste of time because they often consist of movements with intensities that don’t prepare you for your particular sport 1.

Warming up should be short, sweet and to the point to make it as efficient as possible. Every warm up should be specific for the sport, but all field sports contain some type of sprinting, jumping and cutting. This warm up below covers just that 2. Your coach might already have some warm up in place, so this can either supplement that warm up or you can use it for off-season training. With that, let’s get right into it.

First, set up two cones 5 yards away from each other and another pair 20 yards away from each other. (This can also be shoes, socks or water bottles – whatever you have on hand). Best case scenario would be to use markings on a football or soccer field 3.

Warm Up

  • Jog down and back x 1
  • Forward skips with forward arm circles, jog back x 1
  • Backward skip with backward arm rotation, jog back x 1
  • Side shuffle with jumping jack arm swing, jog back x 1 left, x 1 right
  • Easy butt kicks forward, jog back x 1
  • Easy butt kicks backward, jog back x 1
  • Carioca down x 1 left, back x 1 right
  • Easy acceleration run x 1
  • Stationary leg swings x 10 forward and back left leg, x 10 forward and back right leg
  • Stationary leg swings x 10 side to side left leg, x 10 side to side right leg
  • Side shuffle for 5 yards, then acceleration run for 20 yards, easy effort, each side
  • Running high knees for 5 yards, then acceleration run for 20 yards, 60-65% effort
  • Butt kick run for 5 yards, then acceleration run for 20 yards, 65-70% effort
  • Rounding acceleration run for 5 yards rounding and 20 yard acceleration, 65-70% effort, each side
  • Acceleration run for 30 yards, 75% effort

Prepping and improving top end speed is going to change the game in terms of both muscle resilience and on field performance. Under the right guidance, you can not only perform better on the field, but also reduce risk of injury. Exercises such as the nordic hamstring curl have gotten a lot of popularity on social media for being a great exercise for injury prevention. While there are many benefits of nordics, research has shown that getting to a top speed in a safe and controlled manner is even more beneficial from both an injury prevention and athletic performance standpoint 4

Social media can be tricky, so reaching out to an expert to help tease out what is and isn’t supported by research is crucial. Feel free to reach out to us for questions or a consultation! Next, we’ll take a look at off-season sprinting to avoid injury going in-season.

To continue reading about our 10-day protocol for returning to sport after injury, click here.


  1. Munoz-Plaza, C., Pounds, D., Davis, A., Park, S., Sallis, R., Romero, M. G., & Sharp, A.
    L. (2021). High School Basketball Coach and Player Perspectives on Warm-Up Routines and Lower Extremity Injuries. Sports medicine – open, 7(1), 34.
  2. Silva, L. M., Neiva, H. P., Marques, M. C., Izquierdo, M., & Marinho, D. A. (2018). Effects
    of Warm-Up, Post-Warm-Up, and Re-Warm-Up Strategies on Explosive Efforts in Team
    Sports: A Systematic Review. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 48(10), 2285–2299.
  3. Dr. Pat Davidson (2021). Athletic Weapon.
  4. Freeman, B. W., Young, W. B., Talpey, S. W., Smyth, A. M., Pane, C. L., & Carlon, T. A.
    (2019). The effects of sprint training and the Nordic hamstring exercise on eccentric
    hamstring strength and sprint performance in adolescent athletes. The Journal of sports
    medicine and physical fitness, 59(7), 1119–1125.
  5. Nuhu, A., Jelsma, J., Dunleavy, K., & Burgess, T. (2021). Effect of the FIFA 11+ soccer
    specific warm up programme on the incidence of injuries: A cluster-randomised
    controlled trial. PloS one, 16(5), e0251839.

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