Proper Warm Up and Cool Down

Warming up prior to exercise, training or game time is vital in order to gain optimal results and reduce risk of injury. Athlete’s need to take the time to warm-up because if they skip that short amount of time it takes to warm up, it could mean downtime for them from training, practice and from game time.

Why it’s important to warm up

Warming up raises the temperature in your body so the hemoglobin in the blood can move easier throughout the body which helps produce oxygen easier. Injuries can occur by stiff muscles moving repetitively. Once your body is warmed up, it makes your muscles more flexible which means they can move more smoothly and with more coordination and reduce the risk of injury.

Benefits of warm ups

  • Raises muscle temperature
  • Increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients going to your muscles
  • Increases your heart and respiratory rate
  • Prepares body for intense workout
  • Increased muscle flexibility
  • Quicker contracting and relaxing of muscles
  • Increases nerve transmission
  • Mental preparation

Type and Amount of Warm up

The amount and type of warm up will depend on the type of sport you are involved in and the duration of the activity you will participate in. Your trainer will be able to give you a specific amount and type of warm up that will fit the sport or sports you participate in.

Examples of warm-ups

  • Walk quickly
  • Jog for 2-3 minutes to raise body temperature
  • Stretch
  • Repetitive Movement

Cool Down

Cool down is done after your body’s temperature has been elevated from training, exercise, practice or participation in a sport. Your body needs to be properly cooled down in order to allow the heart rate to return to its resting rate and help remove lactic acid that is built up during activity.

Why it’s important to Cool Down

Once your body’s temperature has been raised, it is very important to have a cool down. A cool down is the time it takes for your body’s temperature to lower to a steady rate while still keeping your body moving but at a slower rate in order to allow your heart to resume its resting rate. If cool down is not done after strenuous exercise, training, practice or a game, it can lead to fainting, dizziness, stroke or heart attack. Therefore, it is crucial to the athlete’s health to do a cool down.

Benefits of Cool Down

  • Reduce lactic acid to reduce soreness
  • Return the heart rate to resting heart rate
  • Helps prevent a sudden drop in Blood Pressure (BP)
  • Helps decrease hormones like adrenaline
  • Creates a mental relaxation
  • Promotes healthy repair of cells and tissues within the muscles

Type and amount of cool down

The type of cool down and the length will depend on the type and length of activity. Typically, it is similar to the warm-up exercises. For example, if you were running you could walk or jog in order to cool down. Your trainer will be able to give you tips based on the training or sport in which you are involved. Proper cool down can lead to a speedy recovery so you can be ready to train again at your scheduled training time or to be ready for your game.

Examples of Cool Downs

  • Jog
  • Walk slowly while monitoring your heart rate
  • Stretch
  • Repetitive Movement

Importance of Stretching

No time for stretching? Everybody’s got time for stretching! When working out, many people leave off one of the most important exercises, stretching! It doesn’t even take 10 minutes to do a complete stretching, and the benefits are astounding!

Improvement of Blood Circulation

Circulation of the blood means that your body gets rid of waste byproducts by making the blood flow through your muscles. If you have obtained muscular injuries, a great way to recover quicker is stretching.

Increases Flexibility and Range of Motion

Day to day living is made easy by being flexible. Have a hard time tying your cleats? Is your back tighter than normal while squatting or doing bent over rows? Having difficulty keeping up during sprints? Sore hamstrings or having muscle aches. Problems such as these can be aided by stretching. Maintaining a healthy body while training and playing hard is not easy. However, one can prevent injuries and regain full range of motion by regular stretching.

Straightening the Curve

Stretching can do wonders for postures by keeping your muscles from getting tight, thus you will not have much difficulty in maintaining the correct posture. Good posture will aid your technique.

Releasing Stress

One way to effectively release stress is by relaxing the tight muscles through stretching.

How to Start Stretching?

Warm Up

Sometimes injuries are caused because athletes are impatient and they start out stretching with cold muscles. Take a little more time, walk around, pump your arms, rotate your shoulders, rotate your hip flexors, in order to warm up the muscles and blood vessels.

Hold It

In order for muscles to properly lengthen, hold the stretch for a period of time. It’s better to stretch and hold an area for 30 seconds and even up to 60 seconds for a particularly tight area.

Avoid Bouncing

Bouncing can cause unnecessary micro tears in the muscle making your muscles tighter, thus decreasing flexibility.

Breathe

Relax while stretching and make sure to breathe deep and exhale long.

Do Both Sides

Don’t forget both sides when stretching. This provides equality to the range of motion on either side of the body.

Avoid Stretching When:

  • You have Acute Muscle Strain, give time for your muscles to fully recover before stretching them. Icing will often help heal injured muscles. Also, deep tissue massage will help speed up repair to damaged muscles. Always, consult with your trainer.
  • You recently Fractured a Bone, stressing the area around the fractured bone can lengthen the healing process. Ask your doctor before stretching.
  • You acquired Joint Sprains, the structures around the joint need to heal first before stretching as it may delay the recovery.