The Importance of Warming Up and Cooling Down
Warming up and cooling down are two very important aspects to a workout, and for athletes, a vital part of the training session. A warm up or cool down only takes a few minutes to complete but makes the world of difference, preparing you both mentally and physically.
Before carrying out any exercise, it is extremely important to warm up; when you begin working out, your body undergoes a series of adjustments, and a warm up prepares your body with a gradual increase in intensity. A common side effect for someone who hasn’t warmed up is muscle stiffness, and this achiness is a result of muscle injury.
Warm up exercises have many benefits; not only do they help to increase blood flow to your muscles, allowing them to loosen up, they also help increase metabolism and muscle temperature too - which is ideal before a workout. In addition, they help raise your heart rate to a more workable level, ensuring you’re completely ready. But, most importantly, warming up has a direct connection to improving your overall performance.
Consequently, your muscles become more pliable, which helps to avoid injury. It is typically recommended that a warm up last for about 5-10 minutes, before carrying out some dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretches are generally better at helping to reduce muscle stiffness and are highly recommended before a workout. They’re essentially all about warming up, by focusing on active stretching – it’s suggested you tailor your dynamic stretches so that they’re appropriate to the sport or exercise you are about to do, ensuring a more refined warm up.
Cooling down after your workout is just as important as the warm up, as it also helps improve your overall performance. The goal of cooling down is essentially to return the body to a state of rest. It is recommended during the cool down that you spend some time walking or jogging, as this helps to lower your body temperature, in addition to removing any waste products in your muscles, this is then followed by some stretching.
During a cool down it is recommended that you carry out some static stretches; these involve moving slowly into a stretching position before holding it – typically you should hold the position for about 10 seconds, however, maintaining it for up to 30 helps to improve mobility.
There are many benefits to a cool down, namely aiding in the loss of waste products such as lactic acid; in addition, it allows your heart rate the chance to return to its normal resting rate, as well as reduce the level of adrenaline in your system. It is also important to remember to take some deep breaths whilst cooling down as this helps oxygenate your system.
Fundamentally, the warm up prepares the body for the upcoming activity and helps prevent muscle injury and stiffness; the cool down, on the other hand, helps to reduce lactic acid which can contribute to muscle stiffness the next day. In the end, whatever exercise you do, just remember the importance of a warming up and cooling down