Why warm-up before exercise?
A solid warm up before exercise is really important to reduce the chance of injury. It is a way of preparing your body for what is about to come, and should involve some basic moves which mimic the moves you are going to perform during your workout. For example, if you are going out for a run then doing some leg swings and high knees would be a great starting point; also include some dynamic stretches (using controlled movements that improve the range of motion) but don’t hold stretches for long periods of time (no more than 5 seconds) before you work out, as this could reduce performance.
If you’re going for a full body workout then you’re going to have to warm up your whole body! Start at the top and work your way down, mobilising the joints one by one. Perhaps start with some arm circles and shoulder shrugs. It’s always a good idea to start to get your heart rate up too.
Just as important as a warm-up, make sure you give yourself the chance to cool down properly after a workout… This reduces the likelihood of suffering from post-workout soreness, and that jelly leg feeling that you get if you were to walk straight out of a spin class without a bit of static stretching!
Kick start recovery with a cool-down
A cool-down is the key to kick start your recovery after a workout. It’s really important that you don’t just stop at the end of your session. A proper cool down allows your heart and breathing rate to return to normal (which can help reduce any feeling of dizziness), help reduce muscle soreness, and increase relaxation (thus leading to better overall function, and better quality of sleep!)
If you’re out for a run, don’t end your run at your door step, stop at the end of the street (or further away) and have a nice walk back home to help cool down those muscles.
What’s the best way to cool down?
In a similar vein to a good warm up, a cool down should mimic the movements you did during the workout. These movements can be supplemented with some static stretching.
One hugely important point to note is that you should never push your body beyond its limits, this applies to stretching too. Yes, social media is full of “yogis” contorting their body into all sorts of weird and wonderful shapes but they have most likely trained for years to do that, and it’s not necessary for the majority of people. Never judge yourself against someone else, push yourself to your limits and not beyond – a stretch should never feel painful, maybe at times slightly uncomfortable, but never painful.
Some days you’ll be able to stretch more than others, just listen to your body and treat it with the respect it deserves, if you need to go slightly easier one day, then do, you’ll be thankful that you did in the long run.
Are you stuck for warm-up/cool down ideas? Send me a message and I’d be happy to help!
The importance of a warm up and cool down can’t be stressed enough – Jamie Redknapp