We have always been reminded to warm up before exercising. Some of us obey this rule while some of us make do with a quick one.
Whether we are professional athletes or doing sports purely for recreational reasons, it is good to know a bit more about this “appetiser” of our workout.
Warming up before a workout prepares the body and mind for the demands ahead. When correctly carried out, a warm-up routine would effectively increase the body’s core temperature as well as the body’s muscle temperature. The heart rate and breathing rate would also increase, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the brain and other parts of the body. These would collectively reduce the chances of injury which in turn makes the
workout more meaningful.
A familiar analogy would be driving a vehicle. One would normally start at lower speed and power, and then gradually gear up. This would avoid unnecessary jerks and jolts that could be at best uncomfortable or at worst compromising the safety of everyone in the vehicle.
Let us get back to the human body. For the warm-up to be effective and achieve its objectives, the following elements are recommended in your routine.
- General warm-up. This initial warm-up consists of very light, continuous movements for about 10 to 15 minutes. The aim is to bring up the heart rate and breathing rate while turning on the body. You would start to break into a little sweat and feels rather woken up. Here are some recommended moves for your general warm-up.
- Static stretching. An important note about stretching is “Never stretch cold muscles”. So, now that you have worked up a bit of sweat with your heart and breathing rate elevated, it is acceptable to apply some static stretches to those lightly warmed up and contracted muscles. The idea is to hold each stretch very briefly, for about 5 to 10 seconds. This would help loosen up the earlier contractions and lengthen the muscles so that they can work more efficiently later. It has been reported that, stretching prior to sports requiring speed and power affects the performance negatively. The guideline is to follow up with sports specific drills and dynamic stretching Here are some examples of static stretches.
- Sports-specific drills. As the body mechanics have been prepped up adequately in the first two elements, , higher intensity moves can be engaged here. The idea is to carry out moves that mimic the actual sport. For example, a runner can do some light jogging or short quick loops, a swimmer can swim some laps, contact games players can start to drill on the passes and shoots.
- Dynamic stretching. We have come to the last part of the warm-up routine – dynamic stretching. In contrast to static stretching, dynamic stretching takes the body through movements that involve a range of motion. The aim is to activate a stretch and gradually the range of motion. It is important the the range of motion should be increased gradually and in a controlled manner to achieve the desired flexibility without risking injury. When done correctly and safely, the flexibility achieved therein would enhance the performance of the sports ahead and reduces chances of injury. Here are some recommended moves for your dynamic stretching.
We must also recognize that warming up is not the only factor that influences performance and risks or chances of injury. Training and working out within our limits as well as ending off with proper cool down and appropriate stretches are all instrumental in making our workout safe, productive and enjoyable. Observing good practices like these or not would influence whether we keep injuries at bay or accelerate wear-and-tear in our pursuit of sports interests and goals.
- Walker, Brad. The anatomy of sports injuries. You illustrated guide to prevention, diagnosis and treatment. Lotus Pubs. 2013.
- Rolf, Christopher. The sports injuries handbook. A&C Black Publishers. 2007.
- Home Remedies – How to warm up before exercise. http://www.top10homeremedies.com/how-to/how-to-do-warm-up-before-exercise.html/ 2016. Accessed on August 3 2017.
- The Stretching Institute – Warm Up Exercises and Stretches. http://stretchcoach.com/articles/warm-up/ 2017. Accessed on August 3 2017.