A runner’s odds of suffering an injury are significantly impacted by what they do before they even step foot on the trail, track or road. The same goes for a hockey player, biking enthusiast, frequent gym-goer or any other person who exercises. That’s because the warm up routine, the prelude to any physical activity, sets the tone for the body and can dictate whether it is more or less susceptible to pulls, tears, sprains or tweaks.
Warming up correctly takes a little bit of time and effort, but your muscles will thank you for it at the end of the day. Here are three tips for warming up correctly and being healthier because of it.
Stretch Those Muscles
arming your joints and preparing your body for exercise is a necessity when getting ready to be active. When you spend all day sitting at a desk or on the couch your muscles go almost completely unused and become tight and constricted. Without loosening your muscles between extended rest and moderate to intense activity, they are more likely to be over-strained, get pulled apart quickly and snap, causing injury and pain. However, light stretching can make muscles more pliable and flexible, easing them into the stress of a workout. General, full-body stretching is part of a full warm up and this may even be a great time to bring out your foam roller to activate the muscles you are going to be using or that may still be sore and tight from a previous workout.
Get That Heart Pumping
While static stretching may be an initial step into the world of a proper warm up routine, an extended period of static stretching or relying solely on this practice is not recommended and can even hinder you physically before moderate to intense physical activity. Instead, it’s always a good idea to put your body through a dynamic warm up or dynamic stretches. These are activities that take your body from 25 per cent engaged (which you achieved during the static stretch phase) to 75 per cent engaged. They get your muscles loose and ready to handle the stress of a workout while also activating other parts of your body that are important to exercise, such as your lungs, heart and brain. When going through dynamic stretches, try doing 10-20 jumping jacks, five to 15 push ups, running on the spot for 30 seconds or five sets of lunges. Mix and match these exercises and other light cardio activities before getting started on your main exploit.
Go Through The Motions
The final step in your quest for the best warm up is to practice the very activity you aim to do. This serves as a dress rehearsal for your body so it is prepared for the motions and stress that the activity is going to involve. For example, before doing bicep curls or the bench press, go through these exercises slowly and with very light weights. This will help your body adjust to the form needed to do these activities properly and in ways that will reduce your chance of injury. It will also target the muscles needed to properly complete these activities and help make them looser and less susceptible to the strain and stress of the exercise. If you are playing a sport, such as baseball, try getting into the motions in much the same way. Toss the ball back and forth softly with a teammate from a close distance. Increase distance and velocity as your arm becomes warmed up and stretched out to avoid fatigue and to establish the proper form.