Warming up can seem like a pointless “slow start” to your workout, but there a number of reasons why it is a must for everyone engaging in any type of physical activity.
It helps to increase blood flow around the body
Blood flow around your body is essential for exercising. Not only does it increase the amount of energy available to our muscles to use, but it also helps to increase the temperature of the body. This means the muscles, joints and other tissues have the chance to “wake-up”. Overall, a more energised workout, for longer.
It prepares muscles that will be in use
By completing a warm up routine or set of smaller movements that relate to your activity, the necessary muscles have the opportunity to prepare themselves and the actions they will be performing. At the start of every workout, we may be a little stiff (especially if it is first thing in the morning, or after sitting at a desk all day!). So a slow and steady warm up allows your body to prepare itself, and complete the movements the way you have trained it to!
It prevents injuries and assists with healing
Increasing the temperature of the body, and waking up our muscles, means our body is ready to do the things we require of it during that time. If we prepare our bodies, they will be able to move the way we need them to without going too far or misjudging situations and “throwing” our body in. Slow and steady also means that the extra blood flow can help remind your body of its limits from prior injury, and send that support to injuries that are still healing.
It enhances the mind-body connection
Easily one of the most underrated benefits of warming up properly. Our brains send messages to our body – that much is simple. If our brain is sending messages to our body that it’s not ready for, or are outside our current ability, injury can occur. From a competitive sense, a mind-body connection can also help to prepare an athlete for performance. Mental rehearsal and focus have been shown to have a significant impact on performance and level of anxiety/arousal pre-game.
It increases your range of motion
The extra blood flow, increase in body temperature and mental preparation can allow the elasticity of your muscles to increase. This has the ability to help increase the way your muscles can move and the directions they can apply force in (eg. A kick or a throw). By being able to exercise these movements to their full capacity, your performance is increased. In the same sense, if you attempt to perform any movement (even a jog) without being able to use your full range of joint motion can cause serious injury and impact performance.
How can your physiotherapist help?
Your physiotherapist is the expert when it comes to warming up effectively. They can prescribe a whole range of warm up activities that are specific to your situation and needs. These plans can also be adapted for various activities and changed as you need them.
Our top tips for warming up:
> Start with small and slow movements
> Start with lighter weights, and complete the movements to prepare your mind and body
> Let kids see you warming up, if they see you treating it as important they will do the same
> Make your warm up a part of every activity, non-negotiable is best!