Sometimes in our eagerness to get our workout started and start sweating, we forget an important element of any fitness regime: warm up. We often hear about how important that part of a workout routine is, especially to reduce injury, but how much do we actually know about the process?
What Is Warm Up Anyway?
Warm up involves a variety of exercises that focus on building and improving your basic movement and sports skills, which you can then apply to whatever physical activity you’re going to do. What it does, essentially, is prepare your body for the kinds of movements you’d expect to do during a workout.
Why Warm Up?
When you engage in warm up exercises, you’re preparing your body for more intense movements, which in turn will enhance the way you move. This has both short- and long-term benefits: it doesn’t just reduce your risk of injuries during a workout session, but also helps you improve the way you move and reduce muscle soreness.
How Does It Work?
When warming up, you rev up your body temperature and increase blood flow to the muscles you’re going to put through the grind. You just want to stay warm, not get all fired up, so keep the exercises short and sweet to avoid causing fatigue and altering your training results. There are numerous types of warm up exercises you can do such as SMR, Dynamic Stretching, Mobilisation, and Activation Movements, to name a few.
What is SMR
This stands for self-myofascial release, a method of eliminating or easing trigger points while restoring tissue integrity. This warm up targets the tissues surrounding the muscles, to improve range of motion in the joints, reduce soreness, encourage tissue recovery and decrease the overall effects of stress on your body’s movement system.
What is Dynamic Stretching
Dynamic stretching involves moving through a challenging (but comfortable) range of motion over and over again to improve the range of motion in your muscles and tendons, plus reduce the risks of injury. It’s also great for conditioning your athletic performance. If you’ve seen people doing reverse lunges, knee hugs, leg cradles and kneeling hip flexors during warm up, they are performing dynamic stretching. Remember though that this warm up requires you to be mindful of your coordination and that you should do it in a controlled, smooth, and deliberate manner.
What is Mobilisation
Mobilisation takes a full body approach to improve your ability to move and perform efficiently. It is movement-based and is great for helping to decrease pain or discomfort. It can help improve your posture and movement capacity too.
What is Activation
Activation is meant to wake your muscles up, and usually focuses on the core and hips. This approach can help you gain better strength and minimise risk of injury by preparing your whole body for the workout you’re about to put it through. Some examples include planks (and side planks), glute bridge, miniband forward and lateral walks. Perform a couple of sets (of 10-15 reps each) using slow, controlled movements for the best results.