The most commonly used excuse for not warming up before working out is usually “I’m warm already.” Even in these hot summer months, priming your heart, lungs, muscles and brain (yes, it too can benefit from warming up) for activity is necessary and very beneficial.
Warming up causes vasodilation of blood vessels. This means that blood vessel circumference responds to a graded increase in activity by getting larger. A larger circumference means that more blood is able to get to the areas of the body that need it quicker.
Some will argue that there is not a lot of research officially proving that warming up prevents injury. However, this is mostly because of a lack of scientific research in this area. For something to be evidence based, it is necessary to perform double-blind controlled studies, but there is no way to “sham” warm up prior to an activity. In the healthcare setting, anecdotal evidence that warming up is good for the body is overwhelming.Some tried-and-true tips for warming up efficiently and appropriately will help you avoid injuries.
Short and Light
Warm-ups don’t need to be long. The purpose of a warm-up is to prime the body for an activity. Core body temperature and vasodilation will occur in less than
Warm-ups also should be light, at less than 30 per cent maximum exertion. You shouldn’t feel fatigued going into your main workout. Breathing and heart rate should be only mildly increased.
Dynamic vs. Static Stretches
Static stretching (stretching held for long periods and not incorporating much movement) is good for increasing flexibility long term and relaxing muscles. Ideally, stretching prior to an activity should be shorter and incorporate movement because you are planning to use the muscles being stretched in your main workout.
Think about what your main workout will entail. What areas of the body/muscle groups will be used the most? This is what needs to be warmed up. Example: If you are going for a run, the legs and core should be the primary focus of your warm-up.
To find out more about how to achieve your rehabilitation goals this summer, contact a healthcare professional at Align Wellness Studio.
Kristina Maxwell is a doctor of physiotherapy at Align, a wellness studio with an integrated approach to physical rehabilitative treatments and preventative care.