|Do You Need to Warm-Up and Cool-Down?
In the fitness field, there has been a long-standing debate about whether it's best to stretch before or after exercising. The prevailing wisdom is that stretching is most effective after exercise, when your muscles are warm. Incorporating a thorough stretching routine into your post-exercise cool-down will help you to increase your overall flexibility.
Of course, it's also helpful to do a small amount of light stretching as part of your warmup before exercise. This will help to prepare your muscles and joints for the exercise that will follow. Just be sure to pay close attention to what you're doing - stretching carefully and slowly - and making sure not to overdo it. Visualize your muscles lengthening while you gently stretch.
So what is the best warmup, if your main stretching is performed during your cool-down? You may choose to perform a lighter, slower version of the activity you will be doing. For example walking and light jogging in preparation for a run. You can also do some light calisthenics such as walking lunges (stretching and warming your leg muscles) or perhaps some jumping jacks and arm rotations to help warmup your upper body too.
It may not officially be summer yet, but we are certainly having summer-like weather. There's so many fun things to do during the warmer months - baseball, volleyball, basketball, tennis, golfing, biking, swimming, running, hiking, climbing, rollerblading, skateboarding, or perhaps just enjoying a leisurely walk in the park.
This is a great time to be outdoors and active. It's important to prepare for this increased activity to make sure we can continue to have fun all summer.
This is especially important for those who sit at a desk all week and can't wait to get started on Saturday morning. There you are first thing in the morning, out on the tennis court or the golf course, raring to go. Or out pounding the pavement for a three- or four-mile run.
What happens to many of us on these gung-ho Saturdays is a range of unexpected and unwelcome injuries - strained tendons, pulled muscles, tennis elbow, sprained ankles, or worse. These injuries are a big let down and may end up restricting our activities for several weeks, interfering with our plans for summer fun.
The solution is preparation. If you're in your mid to later twenties or older, the reality is that you now have to prepare your body for physical exertion. (Even if you're in your early twenties or younger, preparation is still a good idea.)
Getting some form of regular exercise during the week will prepare you for all your weekend summer fun. 1,2 Regular exercise helps to train your muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints to do physical work. Exercise trains your muscles to support heavy loads, and trains your joints to handle mechanical stresses throughout their full ranges of motion.
The result of this regular exercise is that you're now able to do your activities and play your chosen sports full out. You're already pre-prepared by the exercise you've done during the week.
Now we don't mean to imply you can go out on the court and immediately start serving at 100 miles per hour, or that you can start your Saturday morning run at full speed.
It is still important to warm-up first, allowing your body to get into the rhythm of the game or activity. Your body will still need time to loosen up and get everything moving before you are ready to reach your peak performance. It is also equally important to do some appropriate cool-down activities afterward. This helps us improve flexibility and muscle tone, so that our skill level and sports performance continue to improve.
Chiropractic treatment is another important factor in making sure your body functions at peak performance. Your Millar chiropractor will also be happy to help you design an exercise program that is appropriate for your fitness level and will help you enjoy a summer of fun!
1Reinold MM, et al: Current concepts in the scientific and clinical rationale behind exercises for glenohumeral and scapulothoracic musculature. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 39(2):105-117, 2009
2Sturnieks DL, et al: Exercise for falls prevention in older people. J Sci Med Sport February 18th, 2009