Y. RAMAKRISHNA on why you should prepare your body before and after a workout

Warm ups and cool downs

One of the most important factors in exercising is warming up and cooling down, and it should not be neglected. It has been scientifically proven that time spent on warming up and cooling down will improve an exerciser or an athlete’s level of performance and accelerate the recovery process needed before and after training or competition respectively. As a result, the trainer must encourage the exerciser to regard the warm up and cool down as an essential part of the training session.

Warm Up

The major cause of an injury during workout or while playing a sport is thought to be muscle stiffness and therefore the warm up should be aimed at reducing it.

Basic warm up should include:

  • 3 – 5 minutes jogging / brisk walk – to increase body temperature
  • 3 – 5 minutes dynamic stretches (slow controlled movements through the full range of motion) – reduce muscle stiffness
  • 3 – 5 minutes workout specific drills (Optional for high intensity training) – low intensity or light weight warm up before the main workout to correct the technique and prepare the muscle.

Cool Down

Cool down should mainly focus on reducing muscle soreness post workout and bringing the heart rate to normal range. So that the individual is recovered properly for the next session of training.

Basic cool down should include:

3 – 5 minutes of slow walk – decrease body temperature and remove waste products from the working muscles.
3 – 5 minutes static stretches (stretches should be held for approximately 10 – 15 seconds).

It is very important when you are getting back into shape that you remember to warm up and cool down. Stretching is a part of getting your warm up and cool down, but it isn’t the whole part of what you need to do. Many people like to skip these two areas and get right into their workout. Without the warm up and cool down you can cause injuries that could have been prevented with a few extra steps.

A warm up helps…

  • Increased speed of contraction and relaxation of warmed muscles Dynamic exercises reduce muscle stiffness
  • Greater economy of movement because of warmed muscles Increase in oxygen transmission
  • Increased blood flow, metabolism and muscle temperatures
  • Allows the heart rate get to a workable rate for beginning exercise Mentally focused on the training or competition

A cool down helps…

  • Helps remove waste products, mainly lactic acid
  • Reduces delayed muscle soreness and chances of dizziness or fainting caused by pooling of blood at extremities after a high intensity workout
  • Reduces level of adrenaline in the blood
  • Allows heart rate to return to its resting rate

Y. Ramakrishna, Sports Biomechanist, Sports performance enhancement specialist @ FitnessOne Group India Ltd.