Have you tried to start or finish any workouts without a general warm up/cooling down and you got injured? If you ask me this question, the answer is yes.
Probably 5 or more times I have had my both my ankles sprained and even at some point in my life was walking with two bandaged legs.
Why did it happen?
Simply because I ignored the simple rule and did not do any warm up before hard physical activities. My fault, but luckily you do not need to repeat my story and you can learn from my mistakes.
Firstly, below you will find the definition for warm up and cooling down.
What is warm up?
Warm up starts the biological machine of our body. The internal body temperature is raised by one or two degrees enough to begin perspiration but not enough to cause fatigue.
Warm up is the transition period of the body from rest to exercises and prepares our body for the increased exertion/more strenuous work by stretching the postural muscle, increasing blood flow and the energy burning rate.
When do we need to warm up?
Please always remember to warm up before class, rehearsal, performance, competition or any major physical activity.
Why do we need to warm up?
Warm up is important for our:
So they can work harder. An increase in muscle temperature improves muscle performance and makes them more pliable or elastic
The volume of fluid in the joints increases for the increased range of motion. This improves the joint’s shock absorption ability and prevents wear of bones, tendons and ligaments.
Blood flow increases as heart rate increases. Warm up improves the transport of the vital elements to the muscles (oxygen – provides fuel for activity)
Impulses transmitted throughout the body will occur faster and thus muscular activity will occur faster too.
Warm up allows for easier, more efficient contraction and relaxation of the muscles.
Also warm up improves the nerve activity of the brain, increasing concentration, coordination and memory.
What is the structure of a warm up?
Warm up should last for 15-20min (jogging, yoga, pilates etc.)
There are two phases of warming up
- 5-10min of low intensity, cardiovascular activity, ex. walking, jogging and skipping.
- 5-10min of short duration stretches of the major muscle groups held for 10-15secs.
- 5-10min of specific coordinated movement that stem from elements of the class
- Rest periods between warm up and class should be no longer than 10-15min or the body’ core temperature could fall and another warm up may be needed.
What is cool down?
Cooling down is a period of readjustment and recovery from exercises to rest. Cooling down is the reverse to warm up and thus should follow the same guidelines set in the warm up.
Cooling down should take as much time as the warm up but performed at a slower pace. Stretching may increase in time and duration (15-30sec is recommended).
Why do we need to do a cool down?
Cooling down helps:
- Reduce stress on the body
- Circulation adjustment
- To return HR and blood pressure to normal
- Reduce the chances of dizziness
- Promote lactic acid recovery (efficiently distributes bi-products of exercises preventing muscle soreness and potential injury)
- In relaxation
- Reduce muscle tension after activity.
Benefits of warming up and cooling down
Warming up and cooling down has the benefit of injury prevention, controls muscle soreness, enhances energy production, relieves frustration prior to competition/performance etc. or enhances relaxation after hard activities.