Ooooh. ahhhh. eurghhh are the sounds we normally hear echo around the gym, just moments into a session.
Warming up can often seem redundant and quite frankly it is if minimal effort and thought is put into it. It definitely requires motivation and can often feel incredibly hard as your body is adapting to the different stimuli. Even though it can feel rough and might give you the idea that you are already fatigued or ‘unfit’, it is completely natural to feel this way and you will find that this feeling surpasses during the session.
So warming up. It’s actually a big deal. prepping your body for more volume and intensity you will experience into a session. Most people know that a warm up is designed to avoid injury – i.e. muscle strains/sprains and tears. You thought right. Not only does warming up increase blood volume and flow, meaning more blood and oxygen to muscles for contraction, it also strengthens the signalling pathways from the brain to the body. Ever started a workout and felt clumsy as hell. or even at the end when fatigue kicks in.. that’s a lot of the time not the body but the mind.
To elaborate a little, we have the power source and the quicker we can deliver a message to the intended purpose via its connections, the more efficient we are, the safer we are, the quicker we are to respond. Movement preparations increase range of motion, improve mobility and register coordination. We often refer to neurological signals as ‘switching on’.
Our bodies and brains become inherently lazy, finding the easiest method to complete a task… this may not be the most efficient (and this is where we see injury or imbalances). Ever been told you have weak glutes? You are among a large population who are or have been in that same category. Body says ‘why use them when I have these quads and lower back?’ – sound familiar? Warm ups specific to getting the muscle to fire and make a clearer path from brain to muscle will encourage the use of the correct muscle groups and therefore improve movement quality and efficiency.
Cooling down is another bookend of a workout that is often dreaded. You want to get home. You want your dinner. We get it. However, 5 minutes of low intensity moment can reduce your experience of DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness); that stiff, achy and sometimes painful feeling. one or two days after a session. This is due to the fact you have let your body adapt once again to its steady state and the heart rate can slowly return to a slower pace and the blood in the muscles has a chance to filter back through the system.
Little bit of science, without too much science mumbo jumbo.