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What is the best way to warm-up before exercise?

Nov 20, 2017

Question: "What is the best way to warm-up before exercise?"

Christian Agudelo, ACSM - CPT

There are many different ways people warm up before a workout. There really is no right or wrong way to warm up your body before exercise. However there are more effective ways to warm up. Regardless what type of activity you are doing if you don’t warm up before you increase your risk to of injury. Traditionally people will use an exercise machine to warm up. This method is ok in that it does provide blood flow to the muscles. A quick 10-15 minute warm up on a machine can be sufficient for some. However, there are other ways to effectively warm up that will target your entire body. The first is SMR which is short for self-myofascial release. This is commonly known as foam rolling. SMR provides many benefits to your warmup. It can improve flexibility, function, performance, and reduce injuries. You use your own body weight to roll on the round foam roll. It also provides better circulation to your muscles which can significantly reduce muscle soreness and improve mobility.

Another effective way to get warmed up is to perform some dynamic stretching or mobility exercises. Because these exercises focus on your joints as well as your muscles you will get a much better warm up and you will feel much looser with increase in flexibility. Not to mention any soreness or tightness will be taken care of from the foam rolling. Dynamic stretching allows your body to stretch certain muscle groups while still moving which creates a much better warm up overall.

Earvin Bahena, NSCA - CSCS

A warm up can vary depending on the type of exercise one is going to do, from strength training to running a 10k or playing a competitive sport. In this case we will focus on how to properly warm up for a workout. Everyone has their own special and unique way of getting ready for a workout. Some people like to do some sort of cardio beforehand (ride the bike, elliptical or treadmill) and others like to do static stretches on whatever muscle they feel is sore or will be worked on during the workout. Personal preference doesn’t always mean it’s the correct thing to do; the same applies to warming up. A good place to start when warming up is foam rolling or also known as Self Myofascial Release (SMR), a fancy name for a self-induced massage. This allows you to relieve any muscle tightness in certain areas and help with the recovery process. Following foam rolling you get into a more dynamic warm up. The purpose of the dynamic warm up is to take your body through exercise like movements to prep for the workout. Any sort of movements from corrective exercises, active stretches to lunges can be used in the dynamic warm up. These movements will allow your core temperature to rise and increase your heart rate to have you ready for a workout.


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