You know you need time to go from running at full speed to having dinner if it’s just to catch your breath. However, you may be one of the many people who skip the warm-up and cool-down and go right from activity to daily life with very little transition.
If you fall into this category, consider that your routine could lead to spending more time on the bench. Just as a car performs better when the engine oil begins to circulate in the winter, your body also reaches its peak when you are comfortable in and out. Here are five tips for incorporating a warm-up and cool-down routine into your workouts.
Many people think that warming up means stretching. However, choosing the right type is paramount. Entering a static stretch with cold muscles can tear the elastic, causing you injury.
When you first start working out, do stretching exercises. Movements like slow squats and lunges with arm movements lift your body without forcing your body into positions that your body isn’t ready for.
Understand the Purpose
Knowing the science behind warming up and cooling down during exercise sessions makes you more likely to stick to the recommendations. Proper warm-up increases circulation and body temperature. It increases the flow of synovial fluid to your joints, lubricating them as they prepare to stretch and collide.
Warming up helps prevent injury by preparing your body for sudden stresses and movements that can lead to strains, sprains, and injuries. Think of your tissue as a rubber band. If you put it in the freezer and give it a yank, it will break – but if you gently play with it first, you can stretch it unharmed.
Think dialed down
Your workout can contain both cardio and strength components. The ideal way to prepare your body for both is to do a dial-up version of the movements you would perform during the activity itself.
For example, if you run, you can start your workout with a walk, followed by a light jog. If you’re working out in the weight room, grab some 2-pound dumbbells and do a quick set to get your biceps or triceps ready to go. You can also mimic movements without any weight at all.
Cool equals static
When you’re done with your exercise, it’s time to do static stretches. That said, you don’t want to go from trying your best to stopping. Instead, gradually reduce the intensity until you feel your heart rate begin to return to normal to avoid dizziness.
As the thumping in your chest subsides, stick to static stretches, starting with those that stretch the muscles used during your activity. For example, your post-run routine should always include hamstring, quadriceps, and calves stretches. You benefit from lengthening your spine after nearly any activity, creating space between the compressed vertebrae.
Using Mind-Body techniques
One reason you should avoid being one of those exercise rats that always leave during the last five minutes of class includes injury prevention. Exercise creates microscopic tears in your muscle fibers, resulting in decreased flexibility as they heal unless you stretch them.
You can go further with injury prevention by getting your mind into a relaxation routine. Breathe consciously into any areas that feel tense or tense, helping them relax. Muscle knots can cause pain that keeps you on the sidelines. Try to hold each movement cool down for at least three deep breaths to let the muscle fibers release the spasm.
Incorporate warm-up and cool-down routines into your workout
One way to avoid spending unnecessary time recovering from an injury is to take care of your muscles and connective tissues before and after any physical activity. Please follow the five tips above to start incorporating a warm-up and cool-down routine into your workout.