It’s an in-joke among physiotherapists that they take the longest to get going before the main set! There is a good reason for spending time on the warm-up phase.
Physios know that the warm up is a crucial part of the work out and should be taken seriously.
Why Warm Up Before Exercise?
The purpose of a warm up is two fold. A warm-up prepares the body for exercise by increasing the heart rate and blood flow through the cardiovascular system. It also reduces the risk of injury that comes with exercising without first activating the muscles.
4 Activities to Incorporate into Your Warm-Up Routine
According to physiotherapists, these four warm-up activities will have you exercising at peak performance.
1. Mobility Drills
Oftentimes, it is a lack of mobility and flexibility that is responsible for a person not performing well, rather than a deficit in fitness.
Mobility drills can assist by moving each joint through their full range of motion. These exercises keep joints healthy, in turn reducing any risk of injury and keeping your body pain-free.
2. Isolated Muscle Activation
Activation exercises are designed to enhance the communication between your brain and your muscles.
Isolated muscle activation is when only one joint and a limited number of muscle groups are used.
A good example of an isolated muscle activation exercise is the bicep curl. The movement flexes the elbow joint and targets the front upper arm muscles. Some key muscles to isolate include the glutes, abdominals and rotator cuff.
3. Circuit Training
Circuit training is a workout based around a set number of stations in a certain amount of time. An ideal workout around a circuit is 45 minutes.
You can use three to four stations in a circuit to warm up and then continue with the rest of the program, which can also include repeating the warm up stations.
4. Dynamic Stretching
Dynamic stretching is a continuous movement through a range of motion. For example, touching your toes and reaching upwards, swinging your leg back and forth and making arm circles.
Static stretching, which is holding a stretch for a number of seconds, should be saved until the cool down. This is when muscles are warm and pliable. The evidence is unclear about the risk of straining or pulling a muscle during exercise if static stretching is done prior.
Include five to ten minutes of dynamic stretching into every warm up in addition to isolated activation.
Always consult a medical professional before starting a new exercise program. Your physiotherapist can also prescribe a suitable and personalised warm-up routine.