Children who have a proper warm-up before playing football are much less likely to suffer injuries, according to a study published in the journal Sports Medicine.
An international research group led by sports scientists from the University of Basel in Switzerland found that a warm-up programme developed specially for children reduces football injuries by around 50%.
The study involved 243 teams, comprising around 3,900 children aged between 7 and 13. Clubs were randomised to an intervention group and a control group, and followed for one season. The intervention group replaced their usual warm-up with the newly developed warm-up programme, while the control group warmed up as usual.
The special 20-minute warm-up programme, known as 11+ Kids, was developed by an international team of experts based on studies into the characteristics of football injuries. It consists of seven warm-up exercises which are performed at the start of the children’s regular training sessions.
After one season, the injury rate of the team that followed the 11+ Kids programme was 48% lower than the control group, while the rate of severe injury fell by as much as 74%.
The researchers concluded that the new warm-up programme can help prevent a large percentage of injuries. They recommend performing it at least once, and preferably twice, per week.