Warm-up & Stretch

It is ideal to take a few minutes to stretch and warm up before doing any physical activity.

WARMING UP

What is it all about?

Warming helps prepare the body for the exercise, by conditioning the muscles and joints for the more "intense" or heavy training activity to come. The benefits of practicing warm up exercises is to help prevent injuries, as well as promote better circulation.

The warm up consists of practicing rhythmic exercises that raise your heart rate and and therefore, increase muscle temperature, resulting in more flexible and responsive muscles. It is important to warm up all the muscles that will be involved in your training session before beginning strenuous exercise to avoid injury. For example, to start walking before jogging or running is a way of warming up.

Most athletes perform some type of warm-up and cooling-down exercise while training and or  a competition. Warm-up's increases the blood flow to the muscles which reduces muscle stiffness,  descreases risk of injury and improves performance. Additionally, other benefits include better physiological and psychological preparation before the exercise session or competition.

The most sensitive areas to injury are the joints, especially the shoulders, knees and ankles.

What are the objectives of warming up?

The main objective of warming up is for the preparation and adaptation of the athlete's muscles for future effort and, above all, preventive work to avoid potential injuries. When muscles are cold, there is more risk of lesions, joint injuries, and so on.

How long should I warm-up for?

Every person should warm the equivalent time of what would be: between 15-25% of the total time of your workout.

Warming up for less than that time does not allow the body to adequately prepare itself, just as warming up for longer than the objective time can be harmful because you can accumulate fatigue and affect your workout performance.

Warm-up movements
  • Joint warm-up mobility exercises.
  • Activities that slightly raise the heart rate, to prepare the cardiovascular system.
  • Soft, sustained stretches to prepare the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues associated with the exercise you are going to use.
  • Movements involving the muscles that you will exercise during training.
Common mistakes when warming up
  • Do not bounce. Sometimes the urge to increase your extension can activate the body's protective reflex, causing the muscles to contract instead of stretching, which can result in small tears.
  • Do not stretch to the point that it causes pain. Although you may feel a little discomfort in an area that is tense, real pain is the way your body tells you that something is wrong.
  • Do not forget to breathe. Oxygen exchange is essential for the muscles to respond in a beneficial while stretching. Holding your breath can temporarily increase blood pressure. You should concentrate on inhaling while seeking a stretch position, and then exhale as the extent is deepened. Keep breathing slow and steady.

STRETCHING

Many experts advise to warm up before stretching. Stretching exercises become easier when muscles have been conditioned, making them less stiff and resulting in better performance due to increased blood flow to the muscles. Stretching exercises are comprised of static exercises that act on the muscle groups. It is ideal is to stretch at the end of exercising, so that the muscles and joints reduce the intensity of the effort they have made during the workout, and return to their natural state.

On the other hand, if you stretch prior to conditioning you muscles, this reduces muscular strength and power, which negatively impacts muscle performance, and in some cases, may even cause injury.

When is the best moment to stretch?

Before stretching, tt is better to warm-up and practice joint mobility excercises. This is especially important if your training with weights, or before getting ready for a race or comptetion.

It has been suggested to be more important to stretch after you have finished your workout, rather than before. 

Benefits of stretching

Besides reducing muscle tension, stretching helps improve posture and prevent physical activity-related injuries. Additionally, stretching helps optimize coordination and fluidity of our movements, as well as enhancing our blood circulation.

How should I stretch?

It is recommended that the stretching exercises extend your muscles as much as possible without ever feeling pain. It is important to resist the maximum elongation position between 15 and 30 seconds.

What is the purpose of stretching?

Some benefits of stretching are:

  • It warms-up your muscles and increases mobility.
  • Keeps your muscles active and prevents stiffness from excercise.
  • Improves and maintains your overall flexibility and also enhances the mobility of the body.