Why it’s im­por­tant to warm up be­fore work­ing out

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - ERNIE SCHRAMAYR

One of the most dis­puted top­ics in sports and fit­ness re­volves around the need for warm­ing up be­fore ex­er­cis­ing. Peo­ple ar­gue about whether it is nec­es­sary and, if it is nec­es­sary, which method is best. Tra­di­tion­ally, most warm-up rou­tines were based on stretch­ing, but dy­namic, low-in­ten­sity move­ments prior to ex­er­cise have be­come more pop­u­lar to­day.

Re­gard­less of the way in which you warm up, the rea­son it is con­sid­ered im­por­tant is that it has the po­ten­tial for en­hanc­ing per­for­mance while low­er­ing the risk of in­jury. Dur­ing a warm up, your body’s core tem­per­a­ture rises as your mus­cu­loskele­tal, car­dio­vas­cu­lar and ner­vous sys­tems start to pre­pare to meet the greater de­mands about to placed upon them. In my opin­ion, a third rea­son may ac­tu­ally be just as im­por­tant. Per­form­ing a few min­utes of easy move­ments pre­pares a per­son men­tally for what they are about to do. It sharp­ens fo­cus and brings clar­ity to the task at hand. In to­day’s fast-paced, hec­tic world, the im­por­tance of be­ing fo­cused can’t be over­stated.

Typ­i­cally, a warm up will take be­tween 5 and 10 min­utes and be bro­ken down into “gen­eral” or “spe­cific” types of ac­tiv­i­ties.

The goal is to raise the tem­per­a­ture of the body as a whole and the mus­cles, lig­a­ments and ten­dons specif­i­cally. As the phrase “warm up” im­plies, you’ll know you’re do­ing it right if you’ve be­gun to sweat as a re­sponse to a higher body tem­per­a­ture. Tra­di­tional warm up ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude cy­cling, tread­mill walk­ing, jog­ging or do­ing a va­ri­ety of cal­is­then­ics such as jump­ing jacks or skip­ping. These are all “multi-joint” move­ments that are rhyth­mic in na­ture and re­quire an in­crease in blood flow along with an in­creased need for oxy­gen.

Spe­cific warm up move­ments, on the other hand, are di­rected to­ward the parts of the body that will be used. If you ever get the chance to see a foot­ball team warm­ing up, then you’ll see the kick­ers tak­ing easy kicks at the air and the quar­ter­backs throw­ing short, lazy passes to re­ceivers. Run­ning backs will do slow mo­tion run­ning drills and de­fen­sive play­ers will back pedal at half speed for a few yards at a time.

When I work with a client, I con­sider sev­eral things when it comes to plan­ning their ses­sion.

The first is how they should be warm­ing up. My pri­mary con­cern is how much time they have. If they are on a very tight sched­ule and only work­ing out 2 to 3 times per week, I will have them fo­cus pri­mar­ily on spe­cific move­ments be­fore train­ing. This gives us the abil­ity to im­me­di­ately high­light ar­eas that they’d like to work on as they warm up their bod­ies and pre­pare their minds for the ses­sion ahead.

Like the foot­ball play­ers, these clients start by mim­ick­ing the ex­er­cises of the day in a slow, light man­ner … grad­u­ally build­ing in­ten­sity as the “real” work­out starts. I call this “get­ting a rolling start.”

For clients who have more time and might be work­ing out more of­ten, they’ll di­vide their warm up 50/50 be­tween a gen­eral ac­tiv­ity, like tread­mill walk­ing, and spe­cific drills like light chest presses or lat pull­downs.

To plan the per­fect warm up for your­self, de­cide how much time you’ve got for each day’s ses­sion. If you’ve got more than 30 min­utes, take 5 min­utes to el­e­vate your heart rate and to get your mind fo­cused by do­ing easy en­durance ex­er­cise. Fol­low this with 5 min­utes of spe­cific move­ments that are part of your work­out, but do them at a slower pace with lighter re­sis­tance lev­els.

If your en­tire work­out time is less than 20 min­utes I would take about 5 min­utes do­ing a “rolling start” as you grad­u­ally in­crease re­sis­tance and in­ten­sity lev­els.

Fol­low­ing your warm up and your work­out is the time to cool down and stretch, which is safer and more ef­fec­tive when your mus­cles are warm, loose and pli­able.

Ernie Schramayr, CPT, is a Med­i­cal Ex­er­cise Spe­cial­ist in Hamil­ton who helps his clients man­age med­i­cal con­di­tions with ex­er­cise. You can fol­low him at ernies­fit­ness­world.com. 905-741-7532 or ernies­fit­ness­world@gmail.com.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.