Importance of the Warm-Up and Cool-Down
Many people are so excited to start their workout ajd don’t feel like they need to warm-up or cool-down. However, these practices prepare your body for a stronger training session, prevent injuries, and can speed up recovery. They ensure that you can train harder and more often safely.
Why the Warm-Up is important
Increased athletic performance and reduced risk of injury
The warm-up no only sets you up for success but helps you decrease your risk of injury in the following ways:
A proper warm-up will loosen the joints and improve blood flow to the muscular system. This increased mobility and nutrients helping to prevent the risk of muscle tears, strains, sprains, and other harmful injuries during your workout.
Increased range of motion:
Preparing the tissue for work can increase the extensibility of the muscle tissue as well as decrease “knots” or small constricted fibers. This can be accomplished with stretching or foam rolling. This is important to avoiding injuries and maximize athletic performance by being able to recruit more power.
Increase the blood delivery throughout body
When moving the body during the warm-up, blood flow increases is becomes warmer. During exercise your muscles need more nutrients in the form of oxygen. This is transported from the lungs to the heart, capillaries, and finally the muscle tissue. Increasing body temperature and blood flow allows for easy stretch of the fibers.
A extra benefit of a warm-up is for gathering time to focus on your goals and what you want to accomplish that day. It can bring more awareness to how your body is feeling which gives you a chance to figure out any last minute adjustments you may need to make for your training session.
How Long should a warm-up last?
A warm-up process can be 5-10 minutes long, but depending on the goals and variety of muscles used can be increased.
What are some of the best ways to warm-up?
Stretching can help prepare the muscle’s extensibility and excitability. This can be done with active stretching which includes leaning into a stretch for 2-3 seconds and then releasing it and functional flexibility. An example of functional stretching would be like doing a squat or a lunge to loosen the hip complex. It should be noted that static stretching before a activity should be avoided as it is designed for inhibition of the muscle tissue. This can lead to injuries if you need to use your muscles at their peak performance or in an explosive way.
Utilizing a foam roller can potentially: release knots and adhesions in the muscles, increase the viscoelasticity of the tissue, improve blood flow, loosen fascia and calm the nervous system. These benefits help the muscles operate more efficiently and be utilized at their peak performance. When foam rolling you want to use a roller that fits your comfort zone and while slowly moving along the muscle belly stopping on any spots that cause muscular discomfort and hold for at least 30 seconds and sometimes longer, wait for the spot to release and then move on to the next on.
Movement is one of the best ways to prepare your tissue. This helps loosen muscles and fascia while heating up your body. This can include running on the treadmill, a bike, jumping jacks, or any kind of active movement.
Why the Cool-Down is important?
· Relax and prevent sore muscles
· Reduce lactic acid buildup
· Slow down the heart beat and breathing
· Reduce body temperature
· Prevent injuries
· Prevent blood pressure from dropping too rapidly.
How long should a cool-down last?
A cool-down only needs to take 5-10 mins
What are some of the best ways to Cool-Down?
Using static stretching can help relax and inhibit muscles after a workout. Through a long term stretching program fibers can even be increased in extensibility. Static stretching is done by stretching a muscle group for at least 30-45 seconds. Depending on the muscle fibers it can take up to 120 seconds. Static stretching uses the same principle of foam rolling. By holding tension long enough it over-rides the muscle spindles sensing length causing them to inhibit. For this reason static stretch should be avoided during a warm-up as it's easy to hurt muscles by putting a inhibited muscle under stress.
Just like with the warm-up portion of exercise, foam rolling can be done during the cool-down and used to down regulate your sympathetic system and allow muscles to release and fascia to loosen. This will help insure a speedier recovery.
Using heat or cold can have a variety of benefits after the workout. Using heat can bring in blood and fresh nutrients allowing the muscles to heal and rebuild quicker. Cold therapy can help move debris away from the site. Contrast therapy alternates between cold and heat and can have the best mix of benefits. Examples of heat can be a hot towel, sauna, or hot shower. Examples of cold therapy can include ice, cold shower, or frozen packs of food.
While jumping straight into a workout is much more fun it is important to make sure your body is ready before and recovers after. Spending 5-10 minutes before your activity can increase the results and help avoid injury.