How important is a warmup? So as most of you probably already know, I’m a stickler for warming up. Watching people walk into a gym and start their workouts cold makes me cringe. Watching people start a run without first preparing their muscles is sometimes more than I can bear. While you might be shrugging your shoulders and thinking “what’s the big deal,” all I see are pulled muscles, torn ligaments and twisted ankles or worse. Still don’t agree? Grab an old elastic band and start pulling on it, you’ll see how quickly it snaps. Now take a brand new one, it will take a lot longer for it to break. That’s a great representation of your muscles and ligaments.
HOW IMPORTANT IS A WARMUP
Increased blood flow to your muscles. When you warm up properly, you lessen your chances of getting injured because your muscles are prepared for the workload they are about to undertake. Also, since a big part of working out is mental, your focus is nowhere near what it should be.
Increased flexibility. Very carefully, try bending over to touch your toes right after you’ve woken up. Unless you are already quite flexible, you’ll probably be creaky and achy. Now try this same stretch after a proper warmup and you’ll see how much easier it feels. Think of this time as working out the kinks in your muscles and joints so that they work properly.
Lubricates joints. Part two of increased flexibility is that a solid warmup, in addition to warming up your muscles and preparing your tendons and ligaments, will also help to lubricate your joints. This means you’ll have a more comfortable beginning to your workout.
Gets your heart pumping. Just like it’s not a great idea to do sudden movements with cold muscles, your heart needs a warm up as well. Avoid a sudden blood pressure increase by taking the time for a slow build up.
Improves speed and coordination. Try doing something when you are cold and stiff and you’ll find that your coordination is off and that you are clumsier than you need to be. A good warmup will prepare your muscles to perform at a higher, more efficient level. You’ll find yourself being able to workout longer and harder.
Let me be clear that when I say “warm up” I don’t mean “do big stretches,” as those are better left for post workouts. Remember that a warmup is not the same as a stretch. The warmup is first and foremost always, but both are an important components of your complete workout. It’s interesting to note (and yes I’m generalizing) that more serious athletes or those who have been trained at a high level in any given sport are always very conscious of doing a proper warmups. In contrast, people who are casually active, don’t always think about it and certainly not in the same way. When I was still actively working as a trainer, I noticed that warmups became more important to my clients as they got older and their bodies were no longer performing in the same way. My main piece of advice is that no matter your age, no matter your abilities, always, always, always warm up!
Stay tuned for Friday’s post: The Best Warmup For Your Workout!
Do you warm up before each workout, no matter how small?
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