Disclaimer: Please be aware that information in this article is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding an injury or medical condition.
Written by: Emilie Smale BSc. CAT(C)
You have probably heard that you should do a warm-up before any physical activity, but maybe you don’t know why. From elite to recreational athletes, beginners to avid gym-goers, and those who have a physically demanding job, doing a proper warm-up will help you physically, mentally, and aid in performance.
A proper warm-up before any sport or physical activity will help to increase core and muscle temperature, therefore helping to prevent injuries. Think of your body as a car in Manitoba in the middle of January; you wouldn’t start your car then immediately proceed to drive 100km/h down the highway. Of course not, that would lead to decreased performance in your car’s ability, damage to the vehicle and possibly even an accident. So why would you do the same to your body? You wouldn’t want to go from a resting state to immediately fully exerting yourself, that would lead to decreased performance, damage to the muscle, and possibly even an injury, much like your car.
Warming your body up prior to moderate or intense physical activity decreases the time it takes your muscles to contract leading to an increase in performance. Dynamic movements help to increase the muscle and joints range of motion, leaving you less susceptible to injury. A set warm-up also gives you time to mentally prepare for the activity that you are about to do; whether that be a chance to focus for an important game or give you time to shake off the stressful day and get in the mindset of having a productive workout.
Warm-ups should include the whole body with extra focus on the muscle groups that will be most heavily involved in the upcoming activity, such as legs in soccer or shoulders in volleyball. The warm-up should be comprised of dynamic movements as opposed to static holds or stretches. Rather, actions that are in constant movement and similar to ones that you will be performing in your sport or activity instead of holding a stretch. Static stretches should be avoided before a sport or workout as they may reduce the muscles contractile force which could lead to injury if you try to go straight into high intensity exercises immediately after a static stretch.
Below is a set of warm up exercises that can be performed before any physical activity. The warm-up should last at least 5-7 minutes and you should feel warm and slightly out of breath after completing them. Numbers 3-18 should be performed the length of a room, hallway, etc.
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