Warmups and cooldowns should be a part of your workout routine. They are beneficial in many ways, like fewer chances of injury and more. Perform warm-ups before your workout and cool down exercises after the workout.
Warm-ups prepare the muscles for activity by gradually raising body temperature and increasing muscle blood flow. It reduces the chances of injury and muscle soreness by making blood vessels dilated ensuring a good supply of oxygen and raising muscle temperature for optimal flexibility and efficiency. As it slowly raises the heart rate, it ensures less pressure on the heart.
Cooling down workouts are just as important. They help with recovery and it also reduces chances of injury by keeping the blood flowing to muscles that need it. This prevents blood pooling, light-headedness, and nausea; which is caused due to a sudden halt of blood flow.
The fact that warm-up and cool-down routines prevent injuries is controversial. But they sure help the body ease in and out of the workout. As you have your workout clothes on, it is just better to perform these rather than not to.
How to warm-up
Here you have to do exactly what it sounds like, i.e. warm up the body and muscles. No matter what type of activity you are going to do warming up will get the body ready so you can start and perform well. Warm-up will depend on the type of activity. Working on all the legs and hip muscles are important if you are going to play soccer. Similarly, warm up the muscles that you will be working on.
Start with larger muscles going down to smaller ones. remember to keep the pace slow and steady. A warm-up can cause a little bit of sweating but they aren’t supposed to make you feel fatigued or out of breath. Starting with a slow pace and gradually increasing speed and intensity is a dynamic warmup. Here you can mimic the movements you will be doing. There are plenty of warm-up routines available online. You can always ask your coach too.
Dynamic stretching is to move the muscles and joints to their full range of motion. They can be used to help warm up your body before exercising. Dynamic stretches are for pre-workout as they help warm up the body and reduce muscle tension increasing mobility.
All warmups are dynamic movements where you are moving and not holding any positions. Static stretches are the opposite of this and they for post-workout. We will discuss this later!
Dedicate about 5 to 10 minutes to warm up, before any activity. Perform light cardiovascular activity. Like walking, biking, or jogging to the gym. Perform lunges, jumping jacks, toe touches, or a combination of these. For swimming, you can stretch a little, perform a slow lap, then pick up the pace. As you start your workout increase in power and speed should be gradual.
How to cool down
Don’t just take off the workout clothes when you are finished with the workout. Cooldown is just as important as warm-ups. Static stretching is one of the great ways for a cool down. It helps improve your flexibility.
Just like warm-ups, the cooldown techniques depend on the workout or activity you were engaged in. For instance, for a cyclist, peddling slowly for a while is a good cool down. For a runner light walking and stretching the muscles afterward is a good cool-down technique.
Like warm-ups, here you also have to address the muscles that were being worked on. Continuing the workout for 5 to 10 minutes but with slower intensity and pace is a good cooldown routine.
Holding a single position for 10 to 45 seconds while standing, sitting or lying still where muscles are in a challenging position is called Static stretching. Pre-workout static stretching can constrain power and strength, especially with weightlifting exercises. So, static stretches are better suited after the workout.
Dedicate some post-workout time to cool down doing some light cardiovascular activity. Like walking, brisk walking, or cycling back from the gym. The goal is to lower your intensity and pace at the end. For instance, if you were running lowering the intensity and pace you would be doing brisk walking. Continue this for 5 to 10 minutes.
Then followed by static stretches focusing on the muscles you just worked on. Stretch the muscles but do not extend them too much, i.e. don’t push it past the point where they are tight. Remember you have to hold the stretch position for at least 10-15 seconds and max 45 seconds. Remember to breathe in and out during your cool-down routine. Swimmers can swim leisure laps for 5 to 10 minutes enjoying the water.
Stretching improves flexibility and range of motion relaxing the muscles and joints. If it is before the workout or some other activity stretching helps you ease into the routine and if you stretch after the workout it helps you ease out of the situation.
It is good to make stretches a part of your warm and cool-down routine. Remember, it is best to do them after the warm-up and cool-down phase. Either or not stretching helps with performance, recovery, and muscle soreness is not still confirmed. The controversy would go on until studies have found solid proof, and for that, we need a lot more studies.
You can include stretching, warm-ups, and cool down into your routine. Then see if it helps, either with the performance or just easy you in and out of the workout. If it helps in either way be sure to make it a part of your routine. It can be hard to find the time and effort to perform these but with a little creativity, you can easily do it. For instance, walking or cycling to and from the gym is a good and easy way.
Giving your heart and blood vessels a chance to breathe before and after the activity is all, so it does not have a complicated routine.