Thank you to everyone who has been reading, and providing feedback on my blog. It is very helpful and much appreciated!
Today I would like to discuss the “warm up”. Why we do one, and why it is so important!
First, what makes for a good warm up? In my professional opinion a good warm up should include the following:
1) Self massage, aka myofascial release, aka foam rolling
2) Increase body temperature, aka sweat
3) Increase in mobility, aka add range of motion to all joints
4) Improve neural muscular pathways, aka stimulate the central nervous system, aka build a mind muscle connection, aka improve coordination
So how do those things benefit you?
1) Foam rolling – We use foam rolling as a self massage technique. The point is to apply pressure to the muscle to help break down a fibrous connective tissue known as fascia. Also to promote blood flow to the area. Increasing circulation to the muscle helps the muscle be more prepared for strenuous activity, as well as improve the recovery of the muscle. Applying the pressure to specific trigger points or knots will allow a constricted muscle to release tension and relax. This will allow a greater range of motion.
2) Just like warming up your car before you drive, increasing your body temperature before exercise can help avoid potential injuries. A cold muscle, is a tight muscle. Think about what you do walking around on a cold winter day. Shrug your shoulder, hunch over, generally close up your body. Trying to exercise at a high level in that position would most definitely cause some problems.
3) Improve mobility – Including mobility exercises in your warm up will better prepare you for your work out by teaching your body to allow more range of motion. The more range of motion you have, the less likely you are to get injured and the greater energy (calories) you can expend. Not to mention, if you work on improving your mobility during the warm up you can spend your work out focused on the “sexier” exercises.
4) Build a mind muscle connection – Stimulating the Central Nervous System (CNS) is huge if you want to get the most out of your work out. Being able to control which muscle you are activating, and how much tension you are using will allow you to master movements you never thought you could do. Also priming the CNS for vigorous activity will increase your reaction time, which may save you from injury.
Other than the physiological benefits of a proper warm up, an added perk to warming up with us here at Fitness Together Newtonville is that it allows us to check in with each other. It may be to discuss any limitations you may have that day, talk nutrition, ask questions you would like our opinions on, or just generally shoot the $h!t. All which will improve your experience with us!
Please notice I did not include static stretching or walking in my list. Though walking/ running will touch upon activating the muscles, improving blood flow, and raising your body temperature. It does not add range of motion to any joints, does not build mind muscle connection, and does not release tight muscles. Also static stretching (especially on cold muscles) has been shown to decrease the performance of the muscle during physical activity. Static stretching before exercise does not improve blood flow, does not increase body temperature, does not build mind muscle connection, and I would argue does not even increase range of motion to any joint unless you are holding each stretch for 60 seconds or more.
I tried to keep it short today, I invite you to ask any questions you have. I am happy to discuss things in more detail if you would like!
Have a high quality warm up!