Many of us only focus on the actual workout and never really bother to warm up before or cool down after. If this is you, it's time to change your approach. Pre and post-workout routines exist for a reason to help you feel your best and avoid injuries. Here is more on the importance of warming up and cooling down.
Importance Of Warming Up
There are many benefits to warming up. First, it prepares your body for the work you’re about to do by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. These two things will help you perform better during your workout and reduce your risk for injury. When you start a workout, you're putting physical stress on your body. Therefore if you don't warm up properly, that's when you're more at risk for getting hurt.
Importance Of Stretching
You can easily compare your muscles to a rubber band, and that's why it's important to include stretching in your warm up. If it’s cold and you try to stretch it, it’s more prone to snapping or tearing. However, if you warm your muscles up first and stretch it to its full range of motion, you're in the clear. In addition, this step can reduce how sore you feel in the days after a tough workout, so why would you skip it?
How To Properly Warm Up
Nonetheless, warming up isn't just about stretching. Think about it as moving your body to loosen everything up. So instead of static stretching before a workout, get your body in motion and both your heart rate and body temperature up. Examples of warm up exercises include light cardio such as an easy jog, jumping jacks, walking lunges, leg swings, or torso rotations. If you’re planning on strength training, it's important to do easier versions of the moves you’re going to do in the workout first to warm up those muscles.
Importance of Cooling Down
As soon as your workout is over, it's natural to just quit and get on with your day or night. However, you should always build in at least a few minutes at the end of your workout to cool down. Without cooling down, your blood can actually pool in your muscles and your blood pressure will remain high. Cooling down properly allows the body to reverse those effects and remove waste from your muscles. This optimizes recovery and reduces pain in the coming days, so you won't be as sore as you would be.
How To Properly Cool Down
Cooling down is important, and it'll be different depending on the type of exercise you were doing. No matter what though, the key here is to gradually go down in intensity. If you were running, switch to a jog or walk. If you were swimming, take easier laps. Get the point? You'll know when you're good to go when your heart rate and breathing feel closer to normal. Then you'll want to wrap it all up with some stretching at the end as well. Your muscles are already loose, so now is the perfect time to increase your range of motion! This is also the time to re-hydrate yourself, so be sure to do so.
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