Preparing for Exercise / Activity
Before embarking on any form of physical exercise it is important to know how to warm up and cool down correctly. A good warm up will not only prevent injury but also allow your muscles and joint to work more effectively and allow you to feel how your body is feeling before you start to exercise.
A warm up should take between 15 and 20 minutes.
Benefits of a warm up:
- Increases your heart rate
- Increases the ability of a muscle and tendon to stretch
- Makes stretching easier
- Increases blood flow and oxygenation to the muscle to allow the muscle to work more effectively
A muscle or tendon that has an increased ability to stretch under load is less likely to tear. Stretching should be done after a warm up. Static stretching should be done slowly to the end of its range so all of the muscle structure has a chance to elongate. Stretching should not be uncomfortable or painful and should feel like a pulling sensation and held for 15 ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ 20 seconds and repeated between 3-5 times.
Benefits of stretching:
- Reduces muscle tension
- Increases range of movement of joints
- Increases circulation of blood
There is a large variation between individual flexibility and also within individuals, i.e. you may have good flexibility in the muscles at the back of your thigh (hamstrings) but have poor flexibly in the thigh muscles (quadriceps). This difference in muscle flexibility can lead to muscle imbalance and cause problems such as knee pain or back pain.
Improving flexibility should be done gradually and will take time to see results but a little effort will lead to far less risk of injuries. We can assess your muscle flexibility and advise on a programme of stretches specific to your needs.
Warming Down / Cooling Down
After activity it is also important to warm down, this should consist of 5- 10 minutes of very light exercise, i.e. slow jog and 5- 10 minutes of stretching.
Benefits of warming down:
- Aids removal of waste products from muscle activity
- Reduces the potential of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
- Allows the heart rate to return to normal.