Post No.: 0022
Physically warming up before exercise is critical to reduce the likelihood of sustaining an injury, and it also helps one to gradually feel more and more mentally in the mood and prepared for exercise too. In a similar way, dressing the part i.e. in exercise gear that you’re happy to wear and which makes you feel good and ready to go, helps to get you mentally in the right frame of mind for exercising too. Putting on the right music might also help to rev you up too.
Now to clear something up for some people – stretches as a warm up are not recommended because this can weaken one’s maximum muscle and joint power output during the exercise session proper. And stretches that attempt to explore one’s full range of motion before one is sufficiently warmed up can themselves cause injuries.
The recommended way to warm up is to basically gradually get every muscle and joint warm, such as via jogging on the spot and pumping your arms, in a way that slowly builds in intensity and range of motion. Being able to stretch fully is a sign that one’s warm up routine is complete – but stretching is not recommended as a warm up routine in itself. Stretches that attempt to explore your limits too soon, before your muscles and joints have sufficiently warmed and limbered up, is akin to flooring the gas pedal from a cold start on a cold day in a car before the oils and mechanics have all warmed up to the optimum temperature range – it’s not mechanically sympathetic and therefore risks premature damage to the car.
Stretches are great and are recommended as a dedicated exercise session, or as part of a dedicated exercise session, rather than as a warm up though. There are various types of stretches, including static (holding a stretched limb at its furthest natural point), passive (using a piece of apparatus, wall, floor or another person to hold a stretched limb), dynamic (slow and controlled stretches, swings or twists that help gently push your limbs to the natural limits of their range of motion – this type of stretching is most safe if you are going to stretch during the tail end of a warm up), ballistic (rapid and forceful stretches, swings or twists that try to push your limbs beyond the natural limits of their range of motion – this type of stretching is most risky at any time), active isolated (holding a limb in a fixed position with only the help of your own natural muscle strength, where one muscle (group) contracts and the opposing muscle (group) extends), and isometric (holding a limb in a fixed position while pushing that limb against an opposing force provided by a piece of apparatus or another person, as if resisting the stretch, so the tension is created without contracting the muscle (group)).
Research has shown that isometric exercises, like wall sits or planks, can help lower blood pressure too.
Gradually warming down after your exercise session is over is recommended too – even by just walking gently for several minutes, you’ll shift more metabolites or waste products from your muscles more quickly compared to just sitting or lying down straight afterwards, meaning that you’ll recover sooner. (It usually feels natural to not abruptly stop moving though because after a hard exercise session you’ll find it difficult to immediately keep still for very long as you restlessly writhe around or pace about in pain to instinctively try to shift those waste products!)
You may already have your own effective warm up routine before you exercise, with particular music you like to play to get you fired up – if you do then maybe you’d like to share it with us through the Twitter comment button below?
Woof. Happy exercising!