We exercise quite frequently for building muscles, losing extra calories, and/or for feeling better. Well, most of us do so by lying down immediately or taking hold of weights instantly, after entering in the gymnasium or in the dedicated area in or out of the home. However, such people are most susceptible to risky injuries. In fact, most of the time, they end up hurting their muscles and missing several days for exercising out of ignorance. The same fact is also applicable to sport players.
Even worse? Most of us are not bothered to care!!!
What’s Better? You are no longer one of them, as you are concerned about how to avoid injuries. Probably, that’s why, you are reading this article!!!
Let’s Dig Out the Cause of Injuries!
Now, you might be saying in mind that, “Come on. Surely, it is perhaps due to careless use of any equipment, inadequate safety precautions, and/or hasty approach of exercising, which result in injuries.”
Well, the most common cause of injury induced by a sport or workout is no sufficient warm-up, especially prior to a strenuous activity. Professional athletes, gym goers, and exercisers are most susceptible to injury, as they mostly undergo intense training that can harm a few muscles via overuse. While it is impossible to keep injury at bay forever because of the erratic nature of physical activities, it is certainly feasible to take up precautionary steps for alleviating the likelihood of an injury.
What’s Next? Convince yourself for doing warm-up by knowing its significance!
Let’s Find Out the Importance of Warm-up!
If an expert has to tell you about the importance of warm-up in one line, it shall be, “If there is no enough time for warming up your body, you will certainly not have sufficient time to work out later.”
To understand this fact, just think of your body muscles as stretchable bands made from rubber. Those muscular bands are left unused, if you are living a sedentary life by, say, working on computer throughout the day. On top of that, if the climate is cold, the bands become tighter as well as restricted in movement. Now, if you start sprinting or lifting heavy weights instantly, those constricted bands are suddenly forced to pull apart too swiftly such that they finally rip.
However, if you start your workout or sport after warm-up, this risk of ripping usually causing injury is minimized significantly. According to Mark Dickey who is NASM Elite Trainer, a proper and full body warm-up for up to 10 minutes prior to exercising is essential for preparing the body for the strenuous activity as well as for preventing injuries.
He further explains that such body warm-up helps in boosting the overall body elasticity by 20% and pushes the synovial fluid to keep it going in the joints. According to Mark, sweat on forehead or back of hands is a good indication for proper warm-up and your body’s readiness for exercising or playing the sport. ACSM’s James Peterson, Ph.D. gives several reasons for beginning with a warm-up, which are:
- Increasing body temperature and blood flow to muscles to reduce the possible risk of any kind of muscle and connective injury as well as boosts the delivery of nutrients to muscles for energy production
- Boosting blood flow to the heart to alleviate the risk of exercise-induced risks
- Alleviating muscle viscosity and increasing its suppleness
- Promoting sweating to alleviate the stored heat level inside the body and reduce the amount of spent for cooling down
- Preparing muscles for the load
- Assisting the blood vessels and heart in working as per the increased demand for oxygen and blood
- Improving the transmission speed of nerve impulses
- Preparing muscles for impending workload to reduce the chance of undue soreness
Not Convinced? Here is a Scientific Proof!
Scientific Studies for Warm-Up and Injury Prevention
A few studies were performed with animal subjects, which concluded that harming a muscle that has undergone a warm-up needs more muscle length as well as force than a normal muscle. This conclusion is in line with the anecdotal records revealing that heightened muscle rips more often when they are restricted or cold.
Human studies are also performed to monitor the effects of high-intensity exercise without warming up on heart. In one of the studies, 44 men without any visible symptoms of heart disease were asked to exercise on a treadmill for up to 15 seconds at high intensity, without warm-up. It was found that 70% of these men underwent abnormal ECG changes linked to alleviated blood flow to the heart muscle. This was irrespective of the fitness level or age.
In another study, 22 men with abnormal outcomes were asked to warm-up for 2 minutes through jogging, prior to using the treadmill. It was then found that this small warm-up triggered normal ECG tracings in 10 men as well as improved tracings in other 10. This has already made place for performing studies to know the impact of 10 to 20 minute warm-up on humans. Therefore, it is essential to warm-up for a few minutes as well as slowly before proper workout or sport, to enjoy a more rapid and energetic pace.
Now Convinced? Get to Know How to Warm-up in the Right Way!
Warming Up before Exercising or Sport
Usually, it is recommended to jog, walk, or do some simple stretches just before the workout or sport time. While picking any of those options suffices, a smart warm-up is likely to loosen up muscles, joints, and bones more, boost your heart rate gently, and simplifies the process of being in alignment with the intense activity chosen without much fatigue. For such a smart warm-up, consider following the below three-step method!
First, Consider Walking
You should start with a gentle walk for up to three or five minutes, focus on the ‘gentle’ style, because it is that low intensity that makes it easy for the body to prepare for working in the looming workout mode from the idle or sitting mode.
According to Janet Hamilton who is exercise physiologist and coach of Running Strong, when you walk, the movement pushes joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles to go through a wide motion range that is almost analogous to what they all will undergo in the workout or sport. As a result, the temperature of the core as well as muscles increases and that the blood flow reaches in more gusto to all the muscles. This is perhaps essential for exercising. Moreover, the brain also gets the message of being ready.
If you are a runner and are restoring yourself after an injury, walking is actually indispensable.
Second, Perform Pick-ups or Strides
Pick-ups or strides provide abundant supply of blood to the muscles, trains the fast-jolt muscle fibers, and simplifies the switch from walking to running. However, this is not overstriding wherein you extend your leg far, which causes injury. In fact, you are supposed to keep short, quick steps at the time of performing strides. Suggestively, your legs and feet should be beneath your torso.
Usually, it suffices to take up five strides of 100m. One of the recommended ways to do so is to jog gently for a minimum of two minutes and then speed up over 60 to 100 meters followed by slow deceleration. Post each stride, it is essential to walk and shake your legs forward for 1.5 minutes followed by striding backwards. Just keep in mind that timing the strides as well as the exact distance between each of them is insignificant.
Lastly, Perform Dynamic Stretches
In case you have done some reading on warm-up stretches, you would have mostly come across static stretches wherein you are being taught to hold your arm, leg, or any muscle for 30 seconds or more, in a fixed, elongated position. However recently, for those who are unaware, such stretches are now being rejected for recommendations, because they have been associated with muscle injury. It is argued that such stretching can overstretch the muscles and can drain their power and strength, which is certainly not good for the upcoming workout.
Therefore, dynamic stretching is highly recommended, which features controlled movements of legs for boosting the range of motion, releasing the tied up muscles, and increasing blood flow, temperature, and heart rate for a more efficient exercise. Usually, you need to start gradually, concentrate on the form with easier moves, and then accelerate. For the initial few reps, take up small movements and then widen the motion range as you proceed. For running, you can try the following routine.
- Skipping with increasing the height and range slowly, for 25 to 50 meters.
- Side step for 10 to 20 meters to the left and then right by walking and then transitioning slowly to jogging so that your muscles warm up after which you can create the intensity to cover as much area as possible with only some steps.
- Weave step wherein you step your right foot to the right and left food at the rear of the right one, repeating it for 10 to 20 meters to the right and then to the left, starting so by walking and then increasing the intensity to jogging for make fast move.
- Backward jogging in 50m area.
- Butt kicks wherein you walk with a forced backswing such that the heels reaches to the glutes, which you can also do while jogging for adding a bit difficulty; consider repeating it 10 times on each side.
- Hacky-sack wherein you lift left leg such that the knee points outward by bending and use the right hand to tap the internal area of the left foot without bending; consider doing so 10 times with each leg so that proper balance is stimulated for ensuring a good run.
- Toy soldier wherein you walk forward by keeping your knees and back straight and lifting your legs straight in front and bending your toes; you can even add a skipping movement to it; consider doing it for 10 times on each side.
So, will you warm-up from today before exercising?