Warm Ups for Wimps
A lot of us have felt this way one time or another. Where we are constrained for time and only have a limited time to work out, therefore we don’t take as much or any time to warm up. Maybe your dumb alarm decided to sleep in this morning, making you late for your workout class. And to make up for lost time, you pick up those weights and immediately start your workout. But guess what? That’s a recipe for disaster. Because if this becomes a routinely thing, it will catch up to you; except you won’t get those nice calories burned, but instead an injury to the back or knee. Ouch!
There are several physiological reasons to warm up before taking our bodies through a workout. And no, getting out of bed, getting dressed, driving to the gym, and maybe climbing a flight of stairs or two doesn’t count!
A good workout prepares us physically and mentally for what lies ahead. It prepares our bodies to go from a state of inactivity, or light activity I don’t know what you people do, to a more intense level. The American College of Sports Medicine compares a warm-up to driving on the on-ramp of a highway. The on-ramp gives us time to bring the car up to the speed of traffic to avoid an accident. Also, they can be kind of fun to drive on.
Just in case that hasn’t convinced you yet, here are the top 4 reasons why you should ALWAYS warm up before exercising:
1. It increases our overall muscle temperatures. Most acute injuries involve muscle strain and tears. These injuries, however, primarily affect the muscle tendon junction where the center of the muscle converges with its tendon. Research has shown that these types of injuries are less likely to occur when the body is warmed through muscular activation because it increases the extensibility of the muscles and connective tissues.
2. It protects our joints. Full ROM through the joints actually increases the release of synovial fluid which cushions and protects our joints during movements.
3. Helps our blood vessels dilate. This allows better blood flow through the body, which means less stress on the heart.
4. Prepares our neuromuscular system. This helps for more efficient movement and a better quality workout. It opens communication between our brain and muscles. When we ask our bodies to complete a movement, our minds recruit the muscles that are readily available. Whether we have recently climbed out of bed, or are coming from a day sitting hunched at a desk, a good warm up will help get all the channels open so we can use the proper muscles for the job.
So, with those helpful reasons set in the back in your mind, make sure that the next time you go to your workout, always make sure to properly warm up! Do a couple of stretches to get those tired muscles woken up right before shooting towards your weights. That will leave you and your body happier than ever!