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Sports Med. 2014 Mar;44(3):319-30. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0117-y.

Warm-up and performance in competitive swimming.

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Department of Sport Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal.


Warm-up before physical activity is commonly accepted to be fundamental, and any priming practices are usually thought to optimize performance. However, specifically in swimming, studies on the effects of warm-up are scarce, which may be due to the swimming pool environment, which has a high temperature and humidity, and to the complexity of warm-up procedures. The purpose of this study is to review and summarize the different studies on how warming up affects swimming performance, and to develop recommendations for improving the efficiency of warm-up before competition. Most of the main proposed effects of warm-up, such as elevated core and muscular temperatures, increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscle cells and higher efficiency of muscle contractions, support the hypothesis that warm-up enhances performance. However, while many researchers have reported improvements in performance after warm-up, others have found no benefits to warm-up. This lack of consensus emphasizes the need to evaluate the real effects of warm-up and optimize its design. Little is known about the effectiveness of warm-up in competitive swimming, and the variety of warm-up methods and swimming events studied makes it difficult to compare the published conclusions about the role of warm-up in swimming. Recent findings have shown that warm-up has a positive effect on the swimmer's performance, especially for distances greater than 200 m. We recommend that swimmers warm-up for a relatively moderate distance (between 1,000 and 1,500 m) with a proper intensity (a brief approach to race pace velocity) and recovery time sufficient to prevent the early onset of fatigue and to allow the restoration of energy reserves (8-20 min).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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