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How To Warm Up and Cool Down

February 9th, 2013 · No Comments ·


If you ever wonder whether you should spend your precious time doing warm up (before your workout) and cool down (after your exercise), read on to find out more.

Why Warm Up?

Here are some of the benefits which you gain:

  1. Warmed muscles tend to contract and relax fast.
  2. You will not have muscle stiffness during your workout and have less resistance when you move.
  3. Cold muscles do not absorb shock or impact, and are more susceptible to injury.  Warmed muscles facilitate oxygen utilization because under higher muscle temperature, hemoglobin releases oxygen more readily.  Also, you will have increased blood flow through active muscle tissues.  By having that, you prepare your muscles for stretching.
  4. Talking about stretching, it helps decrease your risk of injury by allowing your joints to move through their full range of motion.
  5. Warm up allows the heart rate get to higher rate getting ready for the exercise.
  6. In fact, warm up will prevent unnecessary stress being placed on your muscles, heart and lungs, which may occur if you exercise strenuously without a warm up.
  7. Last but not least, warm up will help getting you to mentally focus on the training or competition.


How To Warm Up

  • One of the best ways to warm up is to perform the upcoming exercise at a slow pace.  Typical examples include steady jogging, cycling or swimming before progressing to a faster speed.  Make large but controlled circular movements with your arms to help warm the muscles of your upper body.
  • After that, you can do some sport-specific movements and activities, such as a few minutes of easy catching practice for cricketers or baseball players, going through the motion of bowling a ball for lawn bowlers, shoulder rolls, or side-stepping and slow-paced practice hits for tennis players. Sport-specific warm-ups are often designed by a qualified trainer in that sport.
  • Focus on large muscle groups, for instance, your hamstrings.
  • As for exercises more specific to your sport or activity, here are few examples of warm-up activities:
    • To warm up for a run, walk briskly for 5 to 10 minutes.
    • To warm up for strength training, move your muscles and joints through the movement patterns you will do during the workout.
    • To warm up for soccer, do slow soccer-specific running drills.
    • To warm up for swimming, swim slowly at first and then pick up the tempo as you are able to.

A warm-up may cause mild sweating, but it should not leave you fatigued.

Once you have warmed up, I recommend you to stretch.  Stretching muscles when they are cold may lead to a tear.

  • Stretching during a warm-up can include some slow, controlled circling movements at key joints, such as shoulder rolls.  The stretches should not be forced.
  • Another way of stretching is the “static stretching” where a muscle is gently stretched and held in the stretched position for about 30 seconds. This is generally considered the safest method of stretching.  Keep it gentle.  Do not bounce.  Do not stretch to the point of pain.  Aggressive stretching may actually cause an injury or worsen and injury.


Why Cool Down
If you have done the warm up, how about the cool down, is it important too?  Yes, it it is.  If you stop suddenly, the blood will pool in your legs instead of returning to your heart.  So, you should always cool down properly.

Here are the benefits of a cool down:

  1. Cool down help to dissipate waste products, inclusive of lactic acid (which was built up during vigorous activity) and therefore reduce the chance of having “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS) which tends to occur after doing unfamiliar exercise or working at a harder level than usual.
  2. Cool down also helps your heart rate and breathing to return towards resting levels gradually and therefore help avoiding dizziness as it gives ample time for heart rate to return close to its resting rate.  Check out this article –6 Reasons You May Feel Dizzy During Exercise.


How To Cool Down

  • To cool down after a run, walk briskly for five to 10 minutes.  After that, stretch your lower back, neck, calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and groin area.  Your body should be warm and stretching should be easy.
  • To cool down after biking, spin on your bicycle at higher revolutions per minute (around 100) as you finish your exercise.
  • To cool down after swimming, swim some leisure laps for 5 to 10 minutes, varying your strokes.
  • I recommend you to stretch after that.  At this time, your muscles are still warm and most likely to respond favorably.  In fact, stretching helps to relax your muscles and restore them to their resting length, and improve flexibility (the range of movement about your joints).


Final Words

I understand that city folks find it challenging to do frequent workout.  By doing warm up and cool down, it is even tougher to incorporate time-consuming warm up and cool down.  No matter what, try not to skip warming up and cooling down.  Get creative. If you walk to your gym, use the trip there and back to warm up and cool down. Remember, be kind and give your body time to adjust to the demands of your workout.



Category: Other Fitness/Sports Articles

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