One of the injuries and related musculoskeletal issues dealt with by chiropractic, physical therapy and pain management centers in Brooklyn, NYC is exercise-related stress. Many of these injuries and other internal abnormalities are caused by a lack of proper warming up before strenuous exercise.
The importance of exercising is never disputed. But warming up before exercising is generally not given much thought. Warming up is perhaps as important as the exercising itself, since it helps prevent injury during the exercise. Warming up raises the temperature of the body and muscles, and prepares the whole body for the vigorous activity.
Why You Need to Warm Up
There are a lot of systems in the body that need to be prepared – the respiratory system, the cardiovascular system, the musculoskeletal system and the respiratory system, not to mention your psychological framework. You will be placing these systems under significant stress and they need to be fully prepared for the increased demand that will be placed on them. Warming up also prepares the psychological aspects of your body, putting you mentally in an optimal position for exercising.
The Rise in Body Temperature Provides Many Advantages
Now what happens when your body goes through a warm up? Obviously, you get warmer. You find your body temperature rising. The rising temperature causes your muscles to improve their elasticity. In addition, warming up also specifically raises the temperature of your muscles which helps them contract and relax more forcefully. This reduces the risk of the muscles getting overstretched and injured. Blood temperature rises too, as it passes through your muscles. When your blood temperature rises, the oxygen in the blood is more freely available to the straining muscles since the bonding of oxygen to hemoglobin loosens with rising temperature. With more oxygen for your muscles, your endurance has the potential to improve.
Study Proves the Importance of Warming Up
Many studies have looked into how warming up before high intensity exercising actually helps prevent injury on the body. Fitness site Active.com reported on a study that had 44 men without any evident coronary artery disease symptoms run on a treadmill for around 15 seconds at high intensity. An ECG taken after that revealed that 70% of the individuals had developed abnormal changes in their ECG. These changes were found to be the result of low supply of blood to the heart, and not to fitness level or age of the individuals.
The study put 22 of those men who displayed abnormal results on a moderate intensity jogging-in-place session for 2 minutes. They were then put on the treadmill for another round of high intensity running. After the treadmill session, it was found that 10 of the men had normal ECG tracing with 10 even showing improved tracings.
Increased Blood Flow
Warming up helps your blood vessels to dilate, increasing the blood flow. This reduces the stress on your heart. Your knees, shoulders and other large joints are able to fully utilize their movement potential. There are also various hormones that get produced, among which are epinephrine and cortisol that help regulate the production of energy in your body. Warming up causes this hormonal balance to produce more fatty acids and carbohydrates that give more energy to the body. This really gives you a boost and increases endurance while exercising.
Better Heat Dissipation
While warming up warms you up, as the name suggests, it also helps avoid overheating of your body while exercising. That’s because while you move your body as part of the warm up, you activate its heat-dissipation systems along with the other systems of your body. The heat dissipation systems cause your body to efficiently cool down and keep the temperature from getting out of hand early on. This is particularly felt during long and demanding activities such as bicycle racing or running as part of an event.
Much of warming up is a personally conceived process. It depends on what suits you best. But there are some basic rules regarding this. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the warm up should only have duration of 5 to 10 minutes and involve activities that are mildly or moderately strenuous.
How to Warm Up Properly
The warm-up pattern depends on the kind of exercise or activity you are preparing for. If you plan for running, all you need to do for warming up is some jogging. A brisk walk requires a preparation of walking at a slower pace. The key here is to do something that is between resting and the activity you’re planning to do. For more strenuous exercises, you may need to carry out procedures such as neck rolls, cat-cow sequences and pelvic tilts. These procedures can help loosen up the joints of your body, including the spine for activities such as Pilates or yoga. A weightlifting workout might need knee lifts, shoulder rolls and other such exercises involving range of motion.
So remember, no matter how busy you are, don’t ignore warming up before exercising. It can help you fully benefit from the physical effort you put in.