As we start the “Fit and Fine” blog, I’m excited to share with you some helpful tips to accompany your exercise regimen. I’m Emily Gilstrap and I’m a Wellness Coach. The segments that I will be offering you throughout this series are the supplemental training tips that serve as an adjunct to the core of your training program. Topics I’ll be covering include warm ups, cool downs, yoga, pilates, core training, foam rolling, stability training and many more. While these areas of training may not consume your entire workout they are vitally important to creating a balanced exercise regimen that will keep your body strong, flexible, healthy, and hopefully injury free.
So as we begin this training series in preparation for the half marathon coming up May 1st, I felt it appropriate to begin at the beginning of the workout – the warm up. Generally speaking, the warm up is a gradual increase in exercise intensity so as to prepare the body for the work demands to come.
Top 5 reasons why you should invest an extra 5-7 minutes warming up.
1. Increased blood flow to the working muscles therefore delivering additional oxygen and nutrients. Also decreases risk for exercise induced cardiac abnormalities.
2. Increased viscosity of synovial fluid within the joints creating a more friction free range of motion and greater flexibility.
3. Maximize your workout potential by releasing adrenaline and dissipating lactic acid that ordinarily builds up in the initial stages of increased activity.
4. Dilation of the capillaries, which enables oxygen to flow to the muscles at a higher speed and with greater volume.
5. Improved performance through speedier nerve impulses. This allows for enhanced agility, motor skills, reaction time and coordination. Warmed up muscles generate more force upon contraction.
3 Things to include in your warm up.
1. A general warm up would be any rhythmic activity that elevates heart rate and increases respiration. Examples might be brisk walking, light jogging, knee lifts, cycling, elliptical etc.
2. A specific warm up would include dynamic stretches targeting the specific muscle groups that will be primary movers in the workout to come. Examples might be arm swings, leg swings, knee lifts, hamstring curls, torso rotations etc. Dynamic stretches to carry a certain amount of risk so do make sure you are warmed up generally before moving into this phase.
3. Static stretching has been an area of controversy as far as including this in the pre activity warm up. Experts recommend that the majority of our flexibility training should occur at the end of the workout when muscles are warm and explosive power will not be compromised. Depending on the type of workout you plan to engage in, this will dictate whether or not to include static stretching. A static stretch is held anywhere from 10 to 60 seconds at a level of comfortable tension. Some examples might be touching your toes, butterfly stretch, straddle forward fold, side bends etc.
The bottom line for warming up is finding a routine that suits your training regimen and fits into your time schedule. Not only will you feel physically and psychologically prepared for the workout, your body will thank you for it.