According to Wikipedia (the free online dictionary) a warm-up is usually performed before participating in technical sports or exercising. Warming up is a process by which the human machine is brought to a condition at which it safely responds to the nerve impulses of the person for a quick and efficient action.
The aim of a warm-up should include the ability to conserve energy. This is lost on many coaches and managers. In fact most warm-up routines are far too long. Some teams spend up to 30 or 40 minutes warming-up which is a waste of energy and may even dull the nervous system.
According to Behm “once one’s body temperature goes up, then you’ve got an increase in neural conduction velocity – the speed at which you’re transmitting impulses down your nerves.”
An interesting study by Young and Elliott (2001) demonstrated that warm-ups that included static stretching as part of the physical exercise could detrimentally affect subsequent strength and explosive activities – speed and power activities such as sprinting, jumping, catching and kicking/striking.
However one important feature of a warm-up is the length of the warm-up – generally it is accepted that short warm-up of 10-15 minutes are more valuable than those which take 20-40 minutes as long as the intensity is built up over the duration of the warm-up and that sport specific activities are included at game-speed towards the end.