Save big on your family healthcare expenses. Become a myUpchar plus member only at Rs. 99 -

You would have noticed how regular gym-goers begin their running routine on a treadmill relatively slowly and then pick up pace as their body becomes more accustomed to the motion and intensity. They do this to prepare their joints and muscles for the impact of the workout. This preparation is known as warming up.

The truth is that not even the most accomplished athlete can just show up to the field and turn in a record-breaking performance. Everyone needs to warm up: you could be a serious athlete taking part in major competitions in your sport, a budding distance runner, a fitness expert or even a yoga practitioner. Despite your degree of expertise, an injury sustained while performing your favourite physical activity can put you out of action for a long time.

Injuries are part and parcel of playing sports and working out, of course. But warm-up helps to minimise them by conditioning the body for the more intense workout, sport or physical activity ahead. The targeted muscles that enable you to take the load of the performance are habituated to the movements to be able to function without straining themselves. Of course, you can still find yourself on the mat injured, but warming up prior to an exercise helps to avoid workout injuries to a large extent.

Read more: The importance of stretching in a workout

  1. Benefits of a warm-up
  2. Difference between warm-up and stretching
  3. Tips to warm-up correctly
  4. Takeaways of warm-up

Many of us rush through our warm-up routines in the gym, choosing to simply get on with it and begin the main workout. But not only does this put you at greater risk of injury, it also means that you won’t be able to perform the exercise or your sport at the level you would have liked. Here are some of the known benefits of a proper warm-up before exercise, sport or just a run:

  • Increased body temperature: Performing mechanical movements at a reduced intensity means raising your body’s temperature from its resting levels. This enables the body to "warm up", and increases blood flow to the targeted muscles joints. This, in turn, helps to avoid injury as you intensify the movement gradually.
  • Improved performance: Warming up your muscles prior to a game or fitness session is known to improve your overall performance. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2010 said warm-ups improved the overall performance of the subjects by a whopping 79%.
  • Reduced risk of injury: Prior conditioning of the muscle groups, ligaments and tendons means the body is used to the movements it is about to perform with greater intensity now, thereby reducing the chances of injury.
  • More flexibility: At the start of a workout, our muscles are in their normal, resting position. Warming up before performing any strenuous activity enables them to stretch. Mobilizing the joints also helps you push beyond your previous limits.
  • Reduced chances of post-exercise pain: We often complain about delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after an intense workout in the gym, or a tough game of football. Warming up decreases the chances of having muscle pain the next day.
  • Increased focus: Warming up before working out or playing a sport has psychological benefits as well. Visualising a scenario while warming up boosts spatial awareness, like a cricketer swinging a bat or a tennis player practising his or her shots.

A lot of people confuse warming with stretching in the gym or while playing sports. While the ultimate goal of stretching is to increase the range of motion of specific parts of your body, warming up essentially involves boosting the blood flow to the different parts of the body before jumping into the routine.

Stretching is also further broken down into two categories: dynamic stretching and static stretching. Dynamic stretching is closer to warm-ups as it mimics the movement to be performed in the sport, like a swimmer swinging his or her arms before jumping into the water. 

Static stretching, on the other hand, requires stretching a specific part of the body and holding the position while the rest of the body remains static, or still, and is typically performed after a workout. Static stretching exercises can also be interchanged with cooling down exercises, which are performed to cool down the muscles or ease them back into their resting position, preventing muscle cramps and muscle spasms.

Warming up readies fitness enthusiasts for their workout, and helps them perform better day after day. It is for the same reason that gym-goers are also advised to perform exercises in sets of three while gradually increasing the weight they are lifting.

Though different exercises and movements may require different warm-up routines, there are some things you need to keep in mind before starting any routine:

  • Low intensity: As a rule, begin any workout by mimicking the movement of your intended physical activity, like knocking a football around before a game, squatting without weights before doing weighted squats (example: kettlebell squats), or getting into the pool and going for a light swim before doing laps.
  • Short duration: Remember to keep the warm-up short so that you do not tire yourself out before you begin the actual workout or sport.
  • Don't stretch: Research shows that it is not advisable to perform static stretches before a workout. Stretches help to increase your range of motion once the muscles are nicely warmed up after the workout. Before the workout, however, the muscles are not warm and there is a risk of overstretching them. This, in turn, may increase your risk of injuries like tendinopathy and ligament tears.

Read more: Knee sprain: symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention

Much like dynamic stretching, warming up before exercising can condition your body to perform the exercises with the right technique and form. It can also improve your performance: if done correctly, warming up can help you take your game or workout to the next level and lower the chance of an injury or muscle soreness the next day.

Warming up should be contextual: it should be a gentler, slower version of the movement you are about to perform in the main workout or sport. A 5-10 minute warm-up is usually enough to get you going. One more thing: warming up is important whether you workout in the morning, afternoon or night. However, your body may take a little longer to get ready for intense movements early in the morning, especially if it's cold - so keep that in mind and give yourself the benefit of a warm start.

और पढ़ें ...

References

  1. Fradkin, AJ et al. Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Jan;24(1):140-148. PMID: 19996770
  2. LaBella, CR. et al. Effect of Neuromuscular Warm-up on Injuries in Female Soccer and Basketball Athletes in Urban Public High Schools: Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2011;165(11):1033–1040.
  3. Page, P. Current Concepts in Muscle Stretching for Exercise and Rehabilitation. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012 Feb; 7(1): 109–119. PMID: 22319684.
  4. Silva, LM et al. Effects of Warm-Up, Post-Warm-Up, and Re-Warm-Up Strategies on Explosive Efforts in Team Sports: A Systematic Review. Sports Medicine. 2018 Jun; 1(1).
  5. McCrary, JM et al. A systematic review of the effects of upper body warm-up on performance and injury. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2015 Feb; 49:935-942.
  6. Alanazi, HM. Role of Warming-up in Promoting Athletes Health and Skills. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications. 2016 Jan. 6(1): 156-160.
ऐप पर पढ़ें