By Jess Henderson, Exercise Physiologist.
Why warm-ups are an important part of your exercise program. Do you play sport? Have an event upcoming? Or just lead an active lifestyle? If so, it is important to understand the importance of warming up prior to exercise. The aim of a warm-up is to prepare you both physically and mentally, allowing you to perform at your best. We all know that we ‘should’ warm up, but do we know the ‘why’?
A warm-up is aimed to increase blood flow to the muscles, increasing muscle temperature and rate of energy production. This can enhance performance through improved muscle contraction and reflex times. Along with enhanced performance, warm-ups aim to lower the risk of injury in muscles and tendons whilst reducing heavy loads placed on the heart. Increased blood flow will also increase joint range of motion and flexibility. To achieve this, stretching is commonly performed during a warm-up to aid in injury prevention. Dynamic (active, resisted and more mobile) stretching is expected to be superior to static (non-moving, classic style) stretching due to its reproduction of similar movements that occur during exercise and/or sport. However, the research is inconclusive in regards to dynamic vs static stretching prior to exercise. Both show benefits!
Here are my 5 important tips:
- Warm ups generally go for 10-30 minutes, make sure the warm up leaves energy in the tank!
- Make the warm-up specific to the activity that will be undertaken, activate the right muscles to maximise power and strength
- Try to add components used within the game or activity, for example, change of direction and explosive movements for tennis players.
- If you have a previous injury or a weakness, it may be as important to warm it up. Even though it may be uncomfortable.
- Don’t forget the psychological component! A warm-up raises attention and increases motivation. Important for those going into finals this September.
Take home message – Don’t skip the warm-up!
If you would like to learn more about the benefits of warming up or information around injury prevention and rehabilitation contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the clinic on 5251 5724.