A quick run can do no harm, but one without a warm-up just might. Every basic coaching manual would always recommend a brief amount of time to be spent on warm-up right before any high intensity workout. Often, we tend to ignore the advice and jump straight into the deep end. Now chances are that you may come out unscathed, without any apparent damage or harm. At the most, you may feel that you weren’t able to give your best and at times not even that. On the contrary, you may actually land up having one of your best run. What is important here is to understand that any physical activity and its result aren’t an outcome of binary disposition. There are often multiple reasons, and many of them so subjective that we cannot even pinpoint what actually clicked or what went wrong. That’s the reason we need to understand the basic importance of the entire process and follow it up without a miss. The benefits may not be tangible or visible in one go, but they do have a role to play in the long run.
Warm-up before a workout is one such essentials, which not only prepares our body and prevents any kind of damage or trauma due to the sudden escalation of load, but also enables better performance. Let us understand a little more in detail what exactly a warm-up does for us.
5 Reasons for Warm-Up
Improves Blood Circulation: As our body moves into any form of activity from a state of rest or lesser active form, the first thing it needs is a higher circulation of blood to energize those muscles. While our mind gets the instant message and initiates the process, however, a little delay in the same can be trouble. Most of us would have noticed feeling giddy when we try to get out of bed in a hurry, or even trying to get up after sitting for a while. What we need is a transition, slowly moving towards a state of higher intensity while regulating a higher need for blood. A warm-up before an intense activity does exactly the same and makes our workout more efficient.
Helps in Muscle Preparedness: Our muscles work in response to our mind, but there’s a physical aspect of its efficient functioning. To be able to respond to perform better, muscles need a transitional time. A brief warm-up before the workout helps muscles go through that transition and not face any kind of trauma. It helps in activation and mobilization thus enabling a smoother transition and gradual loading of the muscles. Post warm-up the muscles are better prepared to take up a load of any kind of high intensity workouts.
Mobilises Joints: Our body structure is formed by the skeleton which gets wrapped up by all muscles and tissues. It is thus obvious that before the muscles get into action, it’s the various joints in our body that undergo the first action response for any physical activity. Thus, it is important to have them sufficiently mobilized, to ensure they don’t offer any resistance to our muscles. A good warm-up mobilizes our joints and ensures that the transition of the load is in response to our intended workout.
Elevates HR: Just as we start an activity, the first requirement of our body is a higher supply of oxygen to the muscles, which travels through our body in the bloodstream. To be able to supply more blood it takes our heart to start pumping blood at a higher rate, thus we have a higher heart rate during any physical activity. To prevent any undue stress to our heart, it is only wise to elevate the heart rate gradually instead of a sudden peak. A warm-up activity slowly builds up that pace, elevating our HR and preparing it for all the blood it may be needed to pump as we step into an intense workout.
Prevents Injury: Often we have seen runners getting injured due to excessive stress on muscles and are forced to take long layoffs. It is thus important to know what exactly is the reason for these injuries. Among many, a few of the key reasons are tight muscles, joint immobility, etc. As we now know that warm-up helps us deal with the same, it therefore not only enables an enhanced performance but ensures we are able to prevent any injury or onset of muscular stress on our body.
Warm-up thus, is that “one” timely proverbial stitch, which can save us nine. So each time you step out for a run, don’t forget to factor in a few minutes just before the run to sufficiently loosen you up and give you that jump start. It is also important to know that warm-up should not be done too much before the workout as the body tends to cool down as well. A gap of a maximum of 10 minutes, depending upon surrounding temperature and intensity of the workout should do the trick.