Regular exercise is an essential part of maintaining your health. It keeps your cardiovascular system in great shape, strengthens your musculoskeletal system and helps you avoid several chronic illnesses. Exercise also improves your mental health and keeps you looking great.
But it’s important to remember that exercise does carry some risk. If you don’t prepare your body for a workout by stretching and warming up, you may sustain an injury. In fact, many people find themselves visiting our chiropractic clinic in Ealing each year, looking for chiropractic treatments for their strained muscles and ligaments from exercise.
Also, if you don’t cool down your body after an intensive exercise session, you may experience overly-taut muscles and extended recovery periods. This can really get in the way of reaching your exercise goals.
In this post, our Ealing chiropractor shares some more details on how to warm up and cool down correctly. These tips will help you avoid injuries and enjoy your exercise sessions more.
Why Is Warming Up Important?
Warming up prepares your body for the upcoming workout. It does so in several ways:
- Stimulating the cardiovascular system
Warming up gradually increases the activity level of your cardiovascular system. This makes it easier for your lungs, heart, and blood vessels to send oxygen-rich blood throughout the body.
- Warm muscles
When your muscles are warm, they can expand and contract more easily, which reduces the risk of injury.
- Lubricating and warming joints
As you warm up, the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage in your joints will also become warmer. This increases their elasticity, flexibility and capacity to tolerate strenuous forms of exercise. This is an important aspect of warming up as it reduces the risk of common joint injuries that necessitate a visit to our chiropractor in Ealing for chiropractic treatment.
- Increased blood temperature
As your blood warms up, oxygen becomes more easily-obtained from haemoglobin. This makes it easier to breathe during your workout.
- Hormones are released
As you warm up, hormones like cortisol and epinephrine are released. These hormones play an important part in preparing the body for exercise, by regulating energy production.
These changes to your body will increase your range of motion, make your body capable of tolerating the stress of working out, and improve your workout performance.
Tips For Warming Up From Our Ealing Chiropractor
Warm up for 10 minutes
Sports experts suggest that 10 minutes of stretching or low intensity physical activity is all that is needed for a warm up. The key is to make sure that you use this time effectively.
Tailor your warm up to the kind of workouts you perform
It’s important to focus on the muscles and joints which you will be using the most when you workout. If you are going for a run, start with a few stretches mostly targeting your legs and hips, before going on a short walk. Only when your heart rate is slightly elevated and your muscles are feeling warm should you start running.
If you are going to lift some weights, perform some range of motion exercises, like shoulder rolls and knee lifts. Performing some yoga stretches, aerobics, or light cardio to loosen the joints can also be effective.
Don’t use static stretches on cold muscles
Static stretches involve staying in a single position for a certain amount of time (usually 30 seconds or so). Performing these stretches on a cold muscle can actually cause an injury. Instead, use dynamic stretches. This article goes into more detail on the difference between static and dynamic stretches.
Talk To Our Chiropractor in Ealing
If you are looking for some more suggestions on warming up and cooling down, talk to one of our chiropractors at The Spine & Joint Centre in Ealing. They will be able to provide you with advice on the best approaches given your current fitness levels, any medical complications you are suffering from, and your fitness goals. They can also provide chiropractic care which improves the health of your musculoskeletal system. Contact The Spine & Joint Centre on 020 8900 9004 to learn more.
What About Cooling Down?
Cooling down is essentially the opposite of warming up. You want to gradually slow your workout so your heart rate and rate of respiration decrease. If you were running, slow down and have a brisk walk for a few minutes. If you were riding a bike, continue spinning your legs for 5 to 10 minutes. This cool down period gives your body a chance to gradually return to its normal state.
Having a cool down period helps you avoid feelings of faintness which may occur if you suddenly go from a high intensity physiological state to doing nothing. It also gives the body a chance to process any built up lactic acid in the muscles.