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Return to Play #4: Neat Knees

Doing a few stretches is enough to warm up before my football game, isn’t it? 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news- unfortunately not!! 

The purpose of a warmup is to prepare your body for the demands of the sport ahead- get your heart pumping harder, breathing quicker, muscles warmed up & get your head in the game! The other important purpose- the one that we physiotherapists care most about- is that warm-ups should prevent injury!!

In order to do this we need to do different movements which replicate the challenges of the game ahead. We have been looking at loads of different evidence-based ideas to prevent injury, check the other blogs out here.


Where do I start? 

clever bunch of international researchers have devised an excellent warm-up protocol which has been proven to reduce the risk of injury significantly. This protocol is called the Fifa 11+ and it is a 20 minute programme with 3 different stages- compiling of running drills, strength and balance exercises. The only thing you have to think about is making sure your knee is aligned with your foot- see the diagram at the bottom of the poster.

All you must do is complete the warm-up twice weekly and it can reduce injury rates up to a massive 40% – how great are those odds? 

It has been shown to reduce risk of many different injuries, including knee, ankle and hamstring injuries- though most impressively it is very effective in reducing risk of the dreaded ACL injury

Here’s a poster of the exercises to complete- Part 2 is split into 3 categories so there’s an option for everyone’s ability. 


Who should do the warmup? 

Everyone who plays team sports– football, netball, rugby, hockey, volleyball… 

Anyone who plays individual sports which incorporate changing direction- tennis, squash, badminton… 

Even if you don’t take part in team sports these exercises will still help you to improve strength, balance & co-ordination. Most of all they will help you to stay in good condition & stave off injury!


I don’t have 20 minutes before football training! 

No problem- there is a cool study (Whalan et al., 2019) in which half did the full Fifa 11+ warm-up before training, and the other half did the running exercises before training and completed the strength exercises after training. The good news is there was no difference between the 2 groups so you can do whatever’s most convenient for you- and we love convenience! 😀 

Sound pretty good? 

It’s awesome! Get your whole team on it- or ask your coach if they can introduce it to your training night. Effective warm-ups mean less injuries-> which means your A-team can keep playing all season long-> which means more fun and more wins! We all love taking part, but winning is best, so get started with the Fifa 11+ now!


Blog Post by…
Fiona Robertson 
BSc(Hons) Physiotherapy MCSP

Return to Play #5: Joyful Joints
Return to Play #3: Great Groins