By Michael Simmer BS, CSCS, LMT, FST
Today I want to talk about the importance of a proper warm up and why we here at Pulse Fitness stress the importance of completing the warm up in its entirety. It is important for us all to understand that stretching and a warm up routine are not the same, and the warm up routine should be performed first, followed by stretching. Too often, athletes show up late to a group workout and just jump in on the main workout routine with no warm-up. Others are pinched for time, trying to squeeze a workout into a busy schedule, so they skip the warm-up figuring the main set of the workout is more important anyway. So why do your coaches continue to yell at you to get your warm up in? Well there are 2 main reasons we warm up, 1 it can enhance your performance during the workout leading to better results and getting past a hurdle that has been in the way, 2 injury prevention.
As you sit in front of your computer reading this you have a relatively low percentage of blood flow to your skeletal muscles, after only 10 minutes of exercise that blood flow will open up by 70-75% greater flow to your muscles. More blood going to the muscles, along with more oxygen available to the working muscles, means better performance. The increase in blood flow that occurs during your warm up will also increase your temperature within your muscles, which allows the muscle to contract and relax faster which in turn leads to faster muscle metabolism which results in better peak performance. Warming up also has been shown to impact us where it matters most, our hearts. Increase blood flow to the heart. More blood to the heart means a reduced risk for exercise-induced cardiac abnormalities. One study took 44 men who showed no signs relating to coronary heart disease, and had them run on a treadmill for 15 seconds at a high intensity with no warm up, an EKG showed that 70% had an abnormal spike that was attributed to low blood flow to the heart. They had the men who showed abnormalities then perform a warm up and then put them back on the treadmill and conducted the test again, this time only 2 of the men still showed an abnormality. If a short warm up routine is all it takes to improve your hearts performance during high intensity exercise and help you achieve better overall muscle performance it is a no brainer take the time and warm up, we want quality not quantity after all.
The most important reason for warming up is simple, a proper warm up goes a long way in making sure acute muscle injuries do not happen, Injuries like muscle pulls, strains and even tears can be drastically reduced if everyone does a full warm up prior to whatever activity or sport they are doing. There is a reason professional athletes are out on the field hours before game time, going through a version of a warm up. If you have ever been to a baseball game the players are all out on the field going through their routine hours before the first pitch, taking their swings, running in the outfield and taking throws from their position, it is always relative to the sport. While real studies on the impact of a warm up related to injuries its not really feasible as not many athletes or people want to subject themselves to determine the force needed to tear their muscle one study using animals showed that a warmed up muscle required more force and more muscle length in order to injure it. This study is in line with the data that acute muscle tears occur more often when the muscles are cold or not warmed up.
So at the end of the day, when your coach is telling you to go through the warm up, take your time and do the warm up correctly, it can be the difference between having a good workout or a great workout and can help reduce your delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMs. Warming up can protect you from common injuries like hamstring pulls and calf strains, remember for any athlete to be at their best and minimize the risk of hurting yourself, they must take the time for an adequate warm-up.
Do you feel like you are constantly getting injured or recovering from an injury? Our Coaching team can keep you healthy and show you the correct warm-up methods to prevent this. Contact us now to learn more!