Warming up before exercise and cooling down after exercise is important for a good workout. Often, we try to squeeze in a workout into an already busy day (High five for getting it done!) but this is no excuse for skipping your warm up and cool down. Your body will thank you for spending the extra time getting it ready to exercise and helping it recover afterwards. Rushing from the office where you have been sat at your desk for 8 hours, straight into a gym session is an injury waiting to happen!
It is worth remembering that you are an individual and everybody’s workout routines are different! The research around warming up and cooling down is contentious so below is simply a basic guide to help you understand some of the most common pitfalls from the experience of our highly-qualified team.
A warm up is designed to prepare your body for the exercise you are about to perform, both mentally and physically. It should start slowly and involve light aerobic activity and some dynamic stretch movements similar to the type of activity you are about to do.
Light aerobic activities can include:
- Fast paced walking
- A slow jog
- Jogging on the spot
- A slow swim
- A light cycle
- Low resistance on a static bike or cross trainer
The point of this is to slowly increase your heart rate. This in turn increases blood flow around the body enabling more oxygen to reach the muscles you are about to work.
Dynamic stretching activities can include:
- Gentle Lunges
- Shallow Squats
- Arm movements with no additional weight
- Light punches
The dynamic stretching you choose should be similar and a lighter version of the main activity. It will increase your flexibility in these areas before you challenge them fully.
It is advised that you spend 5 – 10 minutes warming up to:
- Reduce your risk of injury; warm muscles have more stretch and flexibility than cold muscles.
- Improve your performance in some workouts; it will take your body time to get into what you are doing and reach a steady state for exercise.
A cool down prevents your heart rate and blood pressure from dropping too rapidly, this can cause you to feel light headed and dizzy.
You should avoid coming to an abrupt stop after vigorous exercise, instead try to steadily reduce the intensity of what you have been doing. So, if you were running, slow to a walk, if you were cycling fast, cycle slowly etc.
Gently stretching the main muscle groups you have worked will help bring your mind and body back to a resting state.
Again, a cool down of approximately 5-10 minutes is suggested.
If you have any specific questions regarding how you as an individual should be warming up or cooling down, please do not hesitate to ask your chiropractor.