Most people know that they should warm up and cool down before and after exercise but very few know why or how. A very important concept to understand in regard to warm up is that our bodies are all different. Some bodies require more time to warm up before reaching peak performance. This section covers a significant number of warm up exercises. Depending on how intense your stretching session will be and how much time your body needs to warm up you can pick and chose which exercise to work into your warm up and how much time to spend on it.
Purpose of warm-up:
• Improves your performance during your primary workout
• Reduce injury: Less likely to strain muscles.
The purpose of warm up is to give the body time to adjust to the increased demands of exercise and reduce tissue viscosity.
• Warm-up should last 5-15 minutes
• A safe and effective warm up should:
• Increase blood flow gradually.
• Increase body core temperature – warm muscles are less likely to be strained.
• Intensity should be enough to increase body temp but not cause fatigue.
• Incorporate light stretching to help release some of the connective tissue bonds of the musculotendinous units formed during rest. Extensive stretching can decrease athletic performance so focus on lightly extending range of motion not increasing flexibility.
• Include sport specific movements at a lower intensity. Sport specific activities should be performed at a fraction of the regular sport intensity or speed as a final phase of warm up.
Types of exercises for warm up:
Using exercises that strengthen and train stabilizer muscles are a safe and efficient way to warm up muscles. Also aids in injury Prevention.
1) Hanging shoulder traction
• Hanging from the pull up bar with palms facing away from the body, allow the body to sink down into the shoulders. Note that you might feel a bit of a stretch through your shoulders and at the base of your shoulder blades as your body sinks down into this hanging position.
• For an optional rotational twisting, dynamic stretch slowly rotate the body clockwise and counter-clockwise while hanging. This motion will be felt not only through the shoulders but also through the oblique muscles as well.
• Add as many hangs or rotations as feel good for your shoulders and body.
2) Hanging shoulder shrugs
• Hanging from the pull up bar with palms facing away from the body, allow the body to sink down into the shoulders.
• You might feel a bit of a stretch through your shoulders and at the base of your shoulder blades. Now depress the shoulder blades, pulling the shoulders down and away from the ears as far as possible before slowly allowing the body to sink back down into the disengaged shoulder starting position. This is one repetition, repeat for 15-20 with as many sets as desired.
• Be sure to control the motion without bouncing or momentum. Once double arm strength has developed work towards single arm shoulder shrugs. Initially start with offsetting some of the body weight by either keeping the toes on the ground or using a band assist to hold with the second arm
3) Chest opener (pectoral muscle):
• Grab a hold of a vertical bar or using a wall to brace against with one arm rotate the body away from the arm. Start with the arm parallel to the ground and slowly rotate away until you feel tension in the pectoral muscle at the front side of the shoulder.
• Optional, slowly work the arm up higher so as to hit different parts of the pectoral muscle in this chest stretch. Posterior deltoid and lat stretch:
• Grabbing a hold of a vertical or horizontal bar slowly rotate your shoulder of your non-grabbing arm towards the elbow of the grabbing arm. You should start to feel slight tension through the back side of the shoulder on the arm that is holding on.
• Feet should be positioned as close as possible to the base of whatever object you are holding on to for stretching. The more you lean out and away the more intense the stretch will be.
• Roll out the shoulders in all directions starting slow and slowly increasing the speed and range of motion as your body feels ready for the increase in dynamic movement. Adding squats or lunges to these arm movements simultaneously will help increase blood flow while increasing the lower body range of motion.
• Arms out to sides with little shoulder rolls slowly increasing to bigger and bigger circles.
• Arm flexion and extension (front to back)
The cool down, much like the warm up, is an often overlooked but very important part of any exercise routine. The purpose of a cool down is:
• To slowly decrease heart rate.
• Gradually relax the muscles.
• Allow removal of muscular waste products (to reduce muscle soreness).
Elements of an effective cool down:
- Duration 5-10 minutes, depending on intensity of exercises preceding.
- The length of the cool down depends on the length and intensity of the primary exercise being cooled down from.
- Slowly decrease the activity level or intensity.
- Spend a few minutes gently stretching, targeting muscles that were used during primary activity.
- Try to avoid abrupt changes in transitioning from primary activity to cool down.
You should understand that when participating in any exercise or exercise program, there is the possibility of physical injury. If you engage in this exercise or exercise program, you agree that you do so at your own risk, and are voluntarily participating in these activities, assuming all risk of injury to yourself.
This article written by Elizabeth Blanchard, one of our RubberBanditz contributors. She is readily found on Instagram @elizabeth_bfit - Find information on her workshops, training, and books on her website at http://elizabethbfit.com/ .