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Limber up: Why you shouldn’t skip the warm up or cool down when you exercise

Are you a regular exerciser, a seasoned athlete or the get in and get it done quickly type of workout person? Regardless of the answer, there’s one thing beginners, professionals and everyone in between should include in their exercise routine. Two things actually. A warm-up and cool-down.

Find out why diving straight in with cold muscles can do more harm to your body than you realise.

Why warming up before exercise is important

Whether you’re heading out for a brisk walk, a jog on the treadmill or about to play professional sport, starting any physical activity cold is a recipe for disaster.

Think of it this way. If you were to stretch a thin piece of plastic and place weight on it, or stretch it to the point of resistance, there’s a good possibility the plastic will break or tear.

Now imagine your muscles are that thin piece of plastic. Starting any form of exercise with cooled muscles that are unprepared for the force of a workout increases the risk of damage.

A quick five-minute warm up that includes a range of motion exercises (think lunges and star jumps) is enough to expand the blood vessels and supply your muscles with the oxygen it needs in preparation for exercise. And it will lubricate your joints and improve your tendon flexibility.

Don’t forget to cool down!

The cool down is just as critical as the warm up. Think back to that thin piece of plastic. While it is heated, it has more give and stretch. But when it is heated and then cooled, it’s likely to stay in that stretched position.

Similarly, when you stretch your muscles after a workout, they’re less likely to tighten.
Stretching helps reduce the build-up of lactic acid which causes cramps and leaves you feeling sore afterwards.

A few stretches – held for up to 30 seconds – will help relax the muscles and return them to their normal range of motion.

What are the risks of not warming up?

Still wondering if you really have to warm up? Isn’t the important thing that you’re exercising? Wrong. As tempting as it is to jump right into a workout or race straight onto the sporting field, it’s critical not to try and save time by cutting corners.

Why? In short, the risk of exercising with ‘cold’ muscles is injury. Warming up protects against muscle strains or tears, ligament sprains, back pain or shoulder injuries.

Basically, spending just a few minutes warming up could save you months of rehabilitation.

Physiotherapy can help prevent injury

If you’re unsure of the best way to warm up or stretch after a workout, seek guidance from a physiotherapist near you.

New Age Physiotherapy has specially trained and experienced sports physiotherapists on staff to show you the best technique to avoid injury. We can even devise a personalised warm up and cool down plan to assist with injury prevention.

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