By Milani Pickering BS, ACSM
Is there a purpose for Pulse Fitness to post the warm-up on the board? Does it actually matter? If you are someone that knows what a warm-up is but not necessarily feel the need to do one, read this. There was a time that I totally looked over warming up and always wanted to get right into my workout. It wasn’t until I learned all the benefits and importance of warming up that I realized the importance to planning a warm-up. Our warm-up includes mobility, glute and core activation, dynamic stretching, foam rolling and neural activation. I will only be going over dynamic stretching and foam rolling.
Let me start off with what is first on the list, foam rolling. Despite what some skeptical people say, there are a lot of well-known fitness specialists that live by foam rolling. So why does foam rolling help? First off what is the problem at hand? Well since more and more people are sitting down looking at computers or have a computer job, the posterior muscles are in a locked long position. For instance, Michael Boyle describes it as “slowly pushing a fist into a plastic bag. If the pressure is slow and consistent the bag does not tear immediately but instead stretches from the constant load over time”. This causes a problem because those muscles will attempt to recoil back to its resting length before giving up and adding more cells and sarcomeres to bridge the gap, which means it is more prone to tear. So the best situation is to roll the posterior muscles because they are already lengthened. However, you should stretch the front side because those are locked short or simply known as tight. Long story short foam rolling is a myofascial release, meaning a deep compression that helps to break up or relax tight muscles and adhesions formed between muscle layers and their surroundings, therefore resulting in a decrease of injury during a workout.
The last part of the warm-up that I am going to go over is the dynamic warm-up. It is made to gradually increase the stress on the muscles, get the joints moving and activate and elongate your muscles (Boyle, 57). A warm-up should first focus on the stretch aspect and then the movement piece. It is important to do both the stretching and the movement warm up, because stretching takes the muscle through the full range, but not actively, while activation increases the temperature of the muscle, but doesn’t go through the full range of motion that stretching would. A dynamic warm-up is necessary to prepare the body for exercise by increasing heart rate and blood flow to working muscles. Your dynamic warm-up should cause you to sweat, that ensures you can jump right into a lift and have a lower risk of injury. Think about how long Olympic athletes warm up before a game or a competition. If they need to do that, then how are you any different when you plan to lift heavy weights?
All in all, foam rolling and static stretching has their perks and they are easy to do, but you can’t neglect the dynamic warm-up. I believe the dynamic warm-up is actually the most important part of the warm-up. It guarantees that your muscles are warm and have proper blood flow. Plus, it makes me feel better knowing that you are doing something to help prevent injury during your workout. Yes, working out and eating healthy is great, but also preventing injury during a workout can assure the longevity of your fitness goals.
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