Taking the time to warm up before exercising can seem trivial to many. But, adding in a short warm-up prior to exercise has amazing benefits for improving your performance and preventing injuries!
A short 5-10 minutes of exercise prior to your workout increases the temperature of your muscles, improving the safety and efficiency of your workout (guess that's why it's called a warm-up!) This gentle increase in cardiovascular activity is also great for safely increasing your heart rate and preparing your body for exercise by:
- Loosening up the joints.
- Improving contractibility of muscles
- Increasing blood oxygen levels.
- Improving the brain's connection with the body!
However, not all warm-ups are created equal.
Warming up is typically divided into two categories: static and dynamic.
Static warm-ups are when we warm up with minimal movement by holding stretches for longer periods of time while staying in one place. Static stretching used to be very popular for starting workouts, but research has begun shifting away from static warmups for successful workouts and encouraging dynamic warm-ups.
Dynamic stretching considers the demand of the exercise you are preparing for. Dynamic stretching consists of moving in different directions without prolonged stretching of any muscle group longer than a few seconds. Research supports dynamic stretching over static because it is proven to prepare your body better for the demands that you put on it during exercise.
For example, a dynamic warmup for lower body training would include bodyweight walking lunges, repeated toe touches with a reach, jogging/walking, and bodyweight squats.
While warming up is important, a proper cool down is just as important! Cool-downs allow your body to regulate back to its resting rate. With exercise your heartrate, body temperature, and blood pressure increase secondary to ddilated blood vessels.
Stopping abruptly can cause lightheadness and sometimes dizziness. So adding a 5-10 minute cool-downto your workout routine will help you body adjust safely back to its resting rate and helps to aid in recovery.
Think about your current warm-up and cool-down routine. Are you using static or dynamic stretches? Are you warming up or cooling down at all?
Let's establish a routine that sets you up for success! Contact your physiotherapist at Renew Physiotherapy for advice. They can advise you on preventing injuries, how to address current aches and pains, and help you improve your overall performance in the gym!