Warming up before exercise, stretching and cooling down after a workout are fundamental, yet often overlooked parts of any training program. Although we are all familiar with these basic workout components from physical education at school, many people tend to skip them. If you are one of them, don’t wonder why you often experience discomfort and even injuries.
If you look around the people at the gym, you would probably notice that the majority of them invest 90% of their time in their training session and don’t do a proper warm-up.
In order to be as useful as possible and to fully explain why it is so important to warm up before exercise, we have asked Dilyana Kostova, a group fitness instructor, to share her experience with WnessTV.
“The warm-up is one of the most important elements of a training program. Its main purpose is to protect us from injuries. And please note that warming up is not the same as stretching!”
What does a warm-up do?
The warm-up serves several purposes:
- To raise the overall body and muscle temperature.
- To prepare the entire body for vigorous activity. The warm-up period prepares the cardiovascular, respiratory, nervous and musculoskeletal systems by gradually increasing the demand on them so that they are able to accommodate the demands of more strenuous activity.
- The warm-up increases muscle efficiency, reduces potential for muscle pulls, improves reaction time and improves the speed of movement of muscled and ligaments.
- A proper warm-up can also help reduce the severity of post-exercise muscle soreness. The higher temperature and increased blood flow resulting from the warm-up are important for delivery of oxygen to the muscles and for prevention of build-up of unwanted waste products, which can lead to muscle soreness.
- Improves flexibility and increases the range of motion.
- It relieves the accumulated stress in the body and mind.
- Improves coordination. Maintaining a full range of movement in your joints keeps your body in better balance. Coordination and balance will help you be mobile and less prone to injuries, especially at an older age.
How to warm up?
Here are some tips on how to build your warm-up routine and prepare your body for a workout:
- Always begin by extending the spine backward, flexing it forward and bending it to the left and right side.
- Continue with rotation of the main joints: ankles, knees, hips, shoulders and neck. The joint movement is facilitated by their lubrication with synovial fluid that is released during the rotation.
- It is important to continue with at least 5 minutes of aerobic movements in order to increase the functioning of the cardiovascular system, increase the temperature in the body and increase the blood circulation as well as load the muscles with oxygen.
Authors: Nadya Pavlova and Dilyana Kostova