Before you exercise, you should never skip the most important part: the warm-up… and the cool-down. These two routines will put you in the best position to avoid injuries.
Why Warm-Up Matters
Preparing Your Body for Action
Imagine your body like it’s a train. When it leaves the station, it doesn’t go from 0 to 70 miles an hour in an instant (that would be crazy!), and neither should your workout (that would also be crazy!). The warm-up is like cranking the engine, gradually increasing blood flow, heart rate, and muscle temperature. This process prepares your body for action.
But what does all that mean?
A proper warm-up increases the flexibility of your muscles and joints. This, in turn, reduces the risk of strains and tears.
Even before you warm up, begin with some dynamic stretches to promote a wider range of motion and flexibility.
How to Warm-Up Effectively
Your warm-up should last at least 10-15 minutes and gradually increase in intensity. Start with low-intensity activities like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or light aerobic exercises.
Then, you can start adding specific movements related to your sport or activity. For example if you play football, practice dribbling and passing to mimic the demands of the game.
Why Warm-Down Matters
Bringing Your Body Back to neutral
The warm-down is your way of telling your body that the intense part of your workout is over. It gradually lowers your heart rate, body temperature, and helps your muscles relax. When you skip your warm-down can result muscle soreness.
How does warming down reduce muscle stiffness and soreness
Cooling down helps reduce products like lactic acid, which can accumulate during intense exercise.
How to Cool Down Effectively
Gradual Reduction in Intensity
Thinking back to the train analogy. When the train arrives at the next station, it has to gradually slow-down from 70-0. Like your warm-up, your cool-down should be gradual. Reduce the intensity of your exercise, transitioning from high-impact movements to low-impact activities like walking.
Incorporate static stretching exercises that target the muscle groups you’ve worked. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, focusing on breathing deeply and relaxing into the stretch.