Your body is like a machine, and it requires ramping up and down during intense activity.
Just like you wouldn’t turn your car on and immediately go pedal to metal, a proper warm-up gets your body ready for exercise or athletic activities, which can prevent muscle strains, pain, and joint injuries.
- Loosen up. If you’ve felt stressed or tense recently, focus on loosening your body. Drop your shoulders, take a deep breath, and relax completely, rotate all of your joints and roll your head on your shoulders..
- Stretch out. There’s a good reason trainers stress the importance of stretching. By stretching your muscles, you’re preparing them for the workout. Stretching also increases mobility in your joints, which can improve performance and reduce stress.
- Prepare properly. If you’ve got an intense session ahead, prepare yourself for it. Don’t jump straight into strenuous activity. Take a quick walk before running laps, and do some light lifting to prepare for serious weight-training.
You don’t put a horse up hot from a gallop, so make sure you also implement a cool down into your workout. Cooling down can help prevent cramps and regulate your breathing, easing you into recovery mode.
- Walk it out. A quick walk can loosen your body and give you time to ramp down after a workout. This also reduces lactic acid buildup, which prevents pain and stiffness.
- Stretch again. This can prevent the buildup of fluids around your joints, reducing pain and stress. Your cool-down stretches should never be painful. Don’t bounce while doing them – keep them slow and fluid.
- Breathe correctly. Consciously control your breathing and try to avoid panting. Lie down if you feel lightheaded and concentrate on breathing in four to six counts and out six to eight counts.
With both a warm up and a cool down routine, you can successfully transition to and from intense activity. This preparation and recovery is vital, especially if you want to avoid joint pain, inflammation, and even serious injuries.
If you are returning to sports or athletic activities after a period of inactivity or after an injury, your warm up and cool down regimens will be even more important to help prevent injury or re-injury. Always ask your doctor about the appropriateness of workout routine, including warm up and cool down routines. Dr. Strasburger can help you create a routine that is safe for your body and can help you reach your maximum potential.