“I walked here, so I’m warmed up and ready to go!” But are you? Warm ups are essential for all modes of exercise but unfortunately, many people neglect this very important part of their routine. So what are warm ups? It is a common misconception that doing a few arm crosses and quad stretches will get you all ready for your workout that’s to come. A warm-up is “an activity that raises the total body temperature, as well as temperature of the muscles to prepare the body for exercise”. Proper warm ups are a key aspect in attaining the intensity needed to achieve optimal results. A warm up should be done before strength training, aerobic or anaerobic exercise and stretching. Physiologically, many things happen within your body during the warm up period. These changes include:
- Increase in blood flow to the muscles
- Increase in range of motion
- Increase in the speed of nerve impulse transmission
- Reduction in muscle viscosity
- Lowering of the energy rates of metabolic chemical reactions
During your warm up, the joints release synovial fluid which acts as a lubricant to lubricate the joints. Doing this lowers the risk of injury and stress on the tendons and ligaments. Static stretching is NOT a proper warm up. In fact, recent research indicates that static stretching prior to dynamic activity (running, jumping, rowing) may have a negative effect on performance. The recommended warmup methods are general and specific. The general warm up involves basic activities that require movement of the major muscle groups, such as jogging, cycling or jump rope. The method increases the heart rate, blood flow, muscle temperature, and lubricates the joints. The specific warm up involves movements that are an actual part of the activity that will be performed, such as using a very low weight on squats before performing your working sets. Ok, so we understand that proper warm ups are necessary, but how good is good enough? Break a light sweat! This usually takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to achieve. It’s time to rethink our warm up routine and give our body what it deserves and avoid getting injured.
Norlina Yakin (Personal Trainer)