Warming Up And Coolng Down: Doing it Properly

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ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Regular routine fitness plays a crucial role in any athlete’s life and daily activities. Following and maintaining a well-rounded fitness routine will ensure you the strong finishes that you work so hard for.ÿ While an excellent work-out regime will help your overall racing performance, fitness first starts with proper warm ups and stretching.ÿ Appropriate warm ups and proper and adequate stretching will also help to decrease the possibility of short and long-term injuries.ÿ

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Time for Warm Ups

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Warming up before working out is almost as important as the work out itself.ÿ Warming up and stretching raises your body temperature and allows your body to properly prepare for more intense activity by slowly building from a low to high intensity.ÿ Experts have done research and concluded that warming up for at least 10-15 minutes is always a great idea and will prove to be the most beneficial to you and your body.ÿ

Warming up is important for a few reasons.ÿ First, as your metabolic rate gradually increases, your energy production systems have plenty of time to adjust.ÿ Second, it helps to avoid irregular heartbeats that often occur when someone jumps right into strenuous and exerted exercise.ÿ The warm up allows the blood to gradually flow to the heart at a regular pace so that when a higher heart rate is required, the heart will now have the needed oxygen and nutrients to get the job done.ÿ This is especially important in athletes who participate in continuous, vigorous activity, such as dirt bike riders.

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Many athletes wouldn’t dare perform before warming up because muscles simply function more effectively at higher temperatures.ÿ In addition, muscles contract and relax more easily and more quickly, making physical activity easier and more productive.ÿ Not only is warming up a good routine to follow in order to perform better, many athletes also benefit psychologically from a good warm up, properly allowing themselves time to get mentally “in the game”.

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Some low intensity activities may not require much of a warm up due to the fact that low intensity workouts do not pose the same challenges that vigorous activities do.ÿ During intense workouts, the musculoskeletal and cardiovascular systems are often pushed to the limit.ÿ

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Cooling Down: When to Stretch

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Many experts suggest stretching when your muscles and joints are nice and warm, preferably after you warm up and right after you exercise.ÿ Stretching after the warm-up may help prevent any injuries, especially if you have any problematic injuries that you have had to deal with in the past.ÿ If you’re looking to increase your flexibility while also getting a good stretch, try stretching for a period of 10 or more minutes directly after your workout.ÿ This is when your muscles will be the warmest and can use the extra movement and a good cool down.

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ It is also very important to remember to stretch all parts of your body, even if you only worked out a specific muscle group on any particular day.ÿ It is recommended that each stretch should be held for 15-20 seconds, only after easing into the stretch.ÿ In addition, don’t ever stretch to the point of pain.ÿ Stretching should never hurt, but if it does, this is a sure sign to back down and make sure to stay within your limits.

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ The back is a major area that often needs the additional attention when stretching. We have a couple good stretches you can try out:

  1. Cat Stretchÿÿÿÿÿÿ
    • Get down on the floor on your hands and knees
    • Push your back up towards the ceiling (like a cat arches it’s back)
    • Continue arching until you feel a gentle stretch in your back
    • Hold for 15 seconds
    • Return to the start position
    • Repeat 10 times
  2. The Pelvic Tilt

úÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor

úÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Exhale and press the small of your back against the floor

úÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Hold for 15 seconds

úÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Return to the start position

úÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Repeat 10 times

Stretching is often over looked as being an important focal point, but there are some great benefits including:

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ – Improved posture this often helps to prevent low back pain

 

– Relaxation – stretching all of the muscles in your legs, hips and lower back on a regular basis has proved to promote relaxation in the deep tissues which then reduces a lot of the strain that is often placed on your back ÿÿÿÿ

– Healthy joints experts will agree that flexibility training plays a vital role in promoting and maintaining healthy, strong joints – stretching your joints will increase three important things: tissue temperature, blood supply, and nutrient transport to tissue

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Proper stretching has also proved to assist in reducing tension and resistance in muscle tissue.ÿ

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Why do it?

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ In order for your body to perform at higher levels, it’s necessary to allow it enough time to adapt to the change in temperature and heat rate.ÿ Warming up and stretching prepares your body for the added stress that exercise puts on it.ÿ Before you kick start your fitness level up a notch, it is highly recommended that you get your heart rate up and your blood pumping.ÿ

After you have warmed up, you should then begin to stretch.ÿ In fact, you should work up some kind of a sweat during your warm up and before your stretch.ÿ This will really aid in preventing injuries since most injuries occur when muscles are cold and not pliable.ÿ Then you are ready to work your body and push it hard.

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ After a vigorous work out, then be sure to properly cool down, stretching all the muscles of your body. Your muscles will contract if you don’t cool down in the correct manner, which can cause cramping and sever pain.

ÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿÿ Making sure your body is properly warmed up and cooled down make your work out that much more effective and enjoyable. These simple steps can make the world of difference and can make you a greater athlete in the end.

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