Warm up before physical activity…..And we mean physical activity of the sporting kind! (Just thought we should clear that up quickly, especially because of the title!)
In this blog we will go over the vitality of warming up and how essential it is as well as some all important tips to help you warm up effectively.
Warming up for adults seems more of an obvious activity to undertake than warming up for children. However it is more important to get the warming up technique right in order to avoid all manner of nasties including pulled muscles, twisted ankles and other strains on the body.
It becomes more important than ever to warm up as we get older (Yuk! We hate the ‘older’ word too.) You will notice how much easier it is to pull a muscle or experience aches and pains as you age – and aches and pains start from around the age of 30! Injuries can occur from the simplest tasks – moving too quickly, sneezing at a funny angle, or even carrying out more strenuous tasks around the home that you don’t do on an everyday basis.
As an adult warming up should become a habit before carrying out any form of exercise, this means starting slowly and building up speed. Rather like a car engine, your body will perform better once the muscles are ‘warmed’ before moving onto strenuous activity. Some form of warming up is preferable even when carrying out household tasks such as DIY or housework – start off with easier tasks such as dusting first to get those muscles moving!
The Importance in Warming Up
As much as sport and exercise is beneficial, sports injuries do occur and can affect joints, muscles and ligaments throughout the body. Warming up before exercise can help to avoid injury as well as the importance of cooling down afterwards of course! (we shall cover cooling down later.) When warming up it is better to concentrate on areas of the body that you are likely to be using. For example, focus on warming up the shoulder area when playing tennis and the knees and ankles when playing football.
Tips On How To Warm Up Effectively
We hear warming up mentioned all the time, but do you know how to warm up effectively? After all there are lots of useful warm up exercises that can be carried out. But what is meant by ‘useful’?
Here at Bluebell Physiotherapy, we recommend that your warm up includes the type of exercise you are about to undertake taken at a slower pace.
If you are new to exercise, you might find it useful to have some examples of what we mean by this, so here we have listed a few examples of warm up routines for different types of exercises:
- A slow jog for running
- A gentle cycle for a spin class
- A slow swim before building up speed in the pool.
Get the idea? 🙂
This would then be followed up with some sports moves relevant to the sport you are doing. Warming up should take at least 6 minutes, however don’t rush it, take longer if you need to and only start your sporting activity when your muscles are ready.
The Warm Up Plan
Follow this brilliant warm up plan to prevent injury and to get the most from your exercise.
- 2 minutes of marching on the spot
Start on the spot then move backwards and forwards. Move your arms in sync with your steps, keeping your elbows bent and your fists soft.
- 30 seconds – 30 knee lifts
Stand tall, keeping your back straight. Bring alternate knees up to touch your hand opposite
- 2 sets of 10 – shoulder rolls
Whilst marching on the spot, roll your shoulders forwards 5 times and backwards 5 times. Your arms should be lose by your side
- 10 knee bends
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your hands stretched out. Lower yourself no more than 10cm by bending your knees. Come up and repeat.
Commonly Found Injuries
It’s not just high profile footballers who suffer horrendous injuries that can affect them for the rest of their sporting career, sports injuries occur on an everyday basis to anyone whether exercising or not. Here at Bluebell Physiotherapy, I have a dedicated sports/therapeutic massage service that is tailored to either a specific area of the body or more generalised. As I said earlier in the blog, sports type injuries do not need to occur just when playing sport, I have treated several people for tendon injuries who spend a large proportion of their working days on ladders. Sports injuries are just as likely to occur from work based activities.
So what sports injuries do we commonly find here at Bluebell Physiotherapy?
- Tennis – shoulder, hip and knee injuries
- Football – knee and ankle injuries
- Running/Jogging – knee, ankle and foot injuries
- Cycling – knee and lower back problems (as well as injuries from falling off!)
As promised earlier in our blog, we have returned to the all important cooling down part! Cooling down is just as important as warming up and actually carrying out the exercise itself. Cooling down is like warming up but in reverse! Basically speaking, you should be slowing down the pace of your chosen exercise. Alternatively you can slow jog, briskly walk or march on the spot.
Why cool down?
- Your heart and breathing rates return to resting levels gradually
- You are less likely to feel faint and dizzy (not at all pleasant, we’ve all been there!)
- Less chance of sore muscles
- Helps your body prepare for next time!
If you have any concerns about your exercise routine, you should speak to either a CSP Registered Physiotherapist or your GP. This is of particular importance if you have an existing injury or medical condition. It is important that your exercise is beneficial and won’t make you worse off – or else its going to be a pointless ‘exercise’!! (excuse the pun!)
We will talk about what happens when you visit a physiotherapist. This is perfect for those of you who are a little bit anxious about visiting us (we don’t bite though – honest!) Hope to see you here again soon! 🙂
Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or contacting us, you can even let us know what you’d like to hear in the future.
Stay tuned for more, all the best. The Bluebell Team