Who needs to warm up anyway?
The human body is the world’s most complicated super computer ever created. It runs on almost any grade of fuel ( not well on poor diet choices) it will resist disease, heal itself as fast as possible, it can go almost a week without water and nearly 2 weeks without food. The fact that our bodies don’t always seem to ask very much from us on a regular basis is incredible.
When we begin adding in exercise and resistance training we start to ask more out of our body. Now it has to be properly warmed up, the exercises need to be performed in a safe and controlled manner to avoid injury, and then it’s important to cool down. Why are these warm up and cool down sessions so important? Let’s dive in and explore a few facts that may help clear this all up.
Let’s start with warming up. When we start our exercise session with a 10 minute moderate intensity warm-up with low impact a few things start to happen.
The warmer the muscle are, the more oxygen that gets delivered to the muscles before adding a load to them.
By warming up we help prevent build up of unwanted waste product which will lead to muscle soreness.
The warm up period prepares the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, nervous system, and the musculoskeletal system by gradually increasing the demand on those systems so they are able to accommodate the demands of a more strenuous activity.
The warmer a muscle is the more flexible and pliable they will be and the more reactive they will continue to stay during and after your intense workout session.
There’s two main types of warm-up:
The purpose of the General Warm-up is to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole, whereas the Sports Specific Warm-up establishes the relationship between the up coming specific movements/workout.
How and Why do we Cool Down?
The Cool Down is equally important for several reasons.
Reduce Heart and breathing rates.
Gradually cool your bodies temperature.
Return your bodies muscles to their optimal length and tension.
Prevent pooling of blood in the lower extremities which can actually cause dizziness, or possible fainting….no fun!
When we are training we heat our bodies up so they will move and explore a greater range of motion than we normally experience in our everyday life. We typically don’t sprint to the kitchen for a glass of water, unless your my 9 year old son who runs EVERYWHERE he goes! We move in a slower more controlled manner during our work day, walking in a store, cooking dinner, and just general relaxation. When we are training hard and have properly warmed up, pounded out an amazing workout, and just shower off, we are missing this crucial step to avoid muscle soreness, tightness that could lead to an injury, and fail to get rid of the waste created by our muscles during a strenuous exercise.
What does a proper cool down look like?
I’m glad you asked! Let’s say that you have spent the past 45-60 minutes getting after a full body, high intensity training session. You have built up a great sweat, challenged your muscles in both a cardio and weight resistance manner, and now it’s time to cool down. The best way to get the job done would happen in the following steps.
Continue drinking water or a Low Sugar Electrolyte drink for 20-30 minutes.
Grab a foam roller and start on the largest muscle groups that you have challenged(back or legs).
Work your way from top to bottom of your body being sure to focus a good amount of time on each muscle group until they feel almost numb (without pain).
Stretch your muscles for 30-60 seconds per muscle group to elongate those muscle fibers. ( this will NOT be nearly as effective if you wait an hour post WO as the muscles will be cold and resist the stretch).
KEEP DRINKING FLUIDS!
There you have it. Think of your body as a high performance machine that starts slow when its cold and has a hard time slowing down after you have raced it around pushing it to the limits! Try these examples before and after your next training session and i assure you your body will not only thank you, but it will also give you the highest return it possibly can!