A LEADING Southampton knee surgeon is warning people of the dangers of not warming up before exercising.

Amir Qureshi, a consultant knee and limb reconstruction surgeon at University Hospital Southampton, said much more focus was needed on injury prevention and preparation at amateur and recreational level.

He added that warming up before any level of sporting activity – even a kickabout in the park – should be "routine and seen as socially acceptable".

His statements come after an "influx" in knee injuries in recent years due to a rise in popularity of the "couch to 5k mentality".

Mr Quereshi said: "I firmly believe we need a change in mindset when it comes to injury prevention in amateur and recreational sport as there is a growing belief you can go from nothing to all-out activity with no consequence.

"That has manifested itself further over recent years with what I call the "couch to 5k mentality" among those looking to get back into physical activity and get fit or play amateur sport with little to no preparation.

"There is a tendency to skip warm-up routines and muscle conditioning exercises and concentrate on distance, whereas preparation and gradually increasing activity is where the focus should be."

Mr Qureshi said it was “imperative” to undertake muscle conditioning prior to competing in competitive sport but also to consider a simple warm-up routine prior to even a kickabout in the park with family or friends.

"Although people might be surprised, partaking in a simple warm-up routine can reduce the incidence of incurring an anterior cruciate ligament injury by up to 70% so for the minimal effort you can avoid a serious injury.

"On many occasions, I hear the reasons for avoiding this are that no-one else does, there isn't time and that people feel uncomfortable as it is seen as over the top, yet to me, it is clear it is common sense.

"We need to be at a point where it is routine and seen as socially acceptable to warm-up before sporting activity of any kind at any level."

Mr Qureshi said the only way injury prevention would become an integral part of sporting activity would be for it to be taught from an early age in schools and by instructors at out of school clubs.