When you’re exercising or playing sport, you need to take care to ensure that you’re not pushing your body beyond its limits. By completing a thorough warm up before activity and a cool down as activity ends, you allow your muscles and joints to properly prepare for exertion. Warm ups and cool downs both prevent injury but also aid in enhancing flexibility and mobility for greater athletic performance and comfort.
Learn more about why a warm up and cool down is essential for all types of exercise.
Why it Matters
When you begin to exercise, your body makes a number of changes to allow you to perform properly. Your breathing and heart rate increases, energy-releasing reactions in muscles begin and increased blood is pumped to muscles to supply them with oxygen. While the body reacts to a change in activity, this doesn’t happen immediately. A warm up is required to allow and encourage the body to reach required levels in order to maintain safety. If you attempt to exert yourself without being warmed up, you dramatically increase the chances of injury and fatigue.
A cool down helps to regulate blood flow and decreases your heart rate and blood pressure slowly. Cool downs are also a great time to incorporate some stretching to improve your mobility and flexibility.
To begin your warm up, focus on aerobic total body movements. Begin at a slower pace that gradually increases in speed and intensity. Warm ups often include dynamic motions, jumps and jogs and may progress to sprints and other higher intensity movements. Warm ups often produce mild sweating but don’t leave you tired and fatigued.
A cool down is often similar in structure to a warm up. Generally taking around 5-10 minutes, cool downs reduce in pace and intensity and allow your heart rate to settle back into its pre-existing state. Cool downs often incorporate dynamic movements and motions and frequently include stretching for muscles and joints worked by strenuous activity.
Stretching is often recommended as part of a cool down routine, as your muscles are already warmed up from activity. Ideal for improving flexibility and range of motion, stretching can help you improve performance and increase mobility to minimise injury. After regular and consistent stretching, you may find that your joints are able to move through their full range of motion with reduced stiffness and resistance.
Prevent and Avoid Injuries with Proper Care and Treatment
Protect and prepare your muscles and joints with comprehensive warm ups and cool downs. As a specialised orthopaedic surgeon, Dr Jens Buelow treats patients experiencing pain, discomfort and limited mobility from knee arthritis, achilles tendon tears and a wide range of injuries often caused by improper form or preparation for exercise.