It's About Time

If you have ever spent more that 5 minutes with me, it is fairly obvious that I love fitness. I have learned so much (sometimes the hard way) in the 30 years that I have been teaching. What better way to share my passion than to start a blog and pass on the information that I share with clients on a day-to-day basis.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Your Warm Up Is An Essential Part Of Your Workout

A warm up is the body’s physical and mental way of preparing for some type of physical  activity or athletic event.  Prior to every workout or exercise session, your body should be prepared for the cardiovascular and muscular challenges that it will be engaging in. 

  • ·         Core temperature-The body in general and more specifically muscles work better when they are warm.  It improves muscle elasticity which in turn prevents injury and strain.  Gradual increases in core temperature adequately allow your body to regulate its temperature by sweating.
  • ·         Increased heart rate-Warm up prepares your heart for an increase in activity and prevents a rapid increase in blood pressure.
  • ·         Rehearsal affect-Your warm up should include movements that mirror a lighter or less intense version of what you will be doing for your workout or athletic activity.  Many warm up exercises will cross over and can be used no matter what event you are participating in but some require specific movement patterns.  Boxers should implement movements in the transverse plane to mimic the rotational efforts that are produced with all the upper body movements.  Dancers should focus on slowly lengthening levers and increasing range of motion.  Volleyball players could incorporate altitude changes gradually preparing for drills that will take them from an explosive jump to dropping down for a dig. 
  • ·         Prepare muscles-To effectively prepare a muscle to lengthen and to contract, the intramuscular temperature should be increased which will improve productivity of muscle contraction and avoid the chance of injury.  Particular movement patterns allow you more muscle control as they are prepared for certain movements.  A prepared muscle can contract more forcefully as well as relax more quickly.
  • ·         Improve range of motion-Movement around a joint is gradually increased as well as lever length. The warm up gently prepares for greater range and increases on the stresses and force demands placed on the joints.
  • ·         Use multi-directional movements-Our body moves in multiple planes and our warm up should include all of them.  Start with linear and then progress to the sagittal and transverse planes.
  • ·         Mental preparation-A warm up allows you to practice how you will move.  It allows you to safely practice what is to come and give you the confidence needed to push your skills when the time comes.  It psychologically prepares you to work out at higher intensities because you have mastered the base movements.

  • ·         Length-This should be dependent on the type and length of the exercise session.   The general guidelines for fitness class are 5-15 minutes.  Specific sporting events will be longer depending on the activity.  Collegiate or professional athletes can warm up to 2 hours before they perform.  Fitness level should also be an indicator of the length of warm up.
  • ·         Type-There is a lot of scientific data on dynamic or active stretching versus static stretching in the beginning of a work out.  Strong evidence is lacking in regards to the benefits of using static stretches in a warm up.  Stopping to hold a stretch will drop core temperature  and heart rate and may also cause trauma to muscles that aren’t ready to stretch.  Warm ups are individual and need to be geared to what you are doing and by what your muscles are requiring to get ready.
  • ·         Appropriateness-Your warm up should not only reflect your type of activity but also the climate you will be performing in.  Cooler temperatures require a longer warm up whereas warmer conditions should be watched so as not to produce premature overheating.

  • ·         Less injuries
  • ·         Leads to efficient caloric expenditure by increasing core temperature
  • ·         Leads to more effective and forceful muscle contractions
  • ·         Your metabolic rate will be temporarily improved because of the increased oxygen demands of the muscle movement.
  • ·         Improved neural  pathway messaging from muscles practicing certain movements
  • ·         Increased blood flow though tissues making muscles more pliable and able to contract
  • ·         Improved coordination, muscle control and reaction times.

To fully enjoy the benefits of all the exercise you are doing, you must include a warm up.  If done correctly it will enhance your activity, your longevity as an exerciser and quality of your overall health.

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