By Dr. Jon DeGorter, DC
Incorporating a warm up and cool down before and after competitions and training sessions is a great way to maximize your overall performance. Pre and post workout exercises are important in preparing the body for intense activity and assisting in full recovery. A general warm up increases muscle temperature and sport-specific movements prepares your muscles for activity. Cooling down after training and races maximizes recovery and prevents injury. If you are going to put in extra effort to increase performance, you should also put in the time to properly warm up and cool down.
A warm up increases blood to flow to the muscles that are to be engaged, which helps deliver oxygen to tissues and removal of carbon dioxide, a harmful toxin for muscle performance. As blood flow and oxygen to muscles increases, muscle viscosity is reduced, and nerve impulses quicken, allowing for faster communication between neurotransmitters. This allows muscles to move quickly and efficiently as the brain connects with the relevant motor patterns for the upcoming activity.
Dynamic stretches are an excellent way to warm up, prepping your cardiovascular, neuromuscular and muscular systems. A dynamic warm up increases flexibility and enhances range of motion, reducing the risk of tearing muscles and ligaments. Movements should activate and elongate your muscles, which helps performance and prevents injury. A dynamic warm up can be easy exercises like squats, monster walks and hip extensions, where you actively turn on muscles for the activity you’re about to do.
While most runners do warm up or at least gradually increase intensity, many overlook the importance of cooling down after a race or hard workout. A cool down speeds up recovery by loosening muscles that may have tightened up and clearing waste products from your muscles, such as lactic acid, which build up during vigorous activity. Lactic acid is most effectively removed by gentle exercise rather than stopping suddenly. A cool down gives your muscles the opportunity to lengthen out and relax, reducing muscle soreness and stiffness.
A cool down should consist of a gentle jog, decreasing in speed down to a walk followed by light static stretching. Remember to stretch all muscle groups, including upper body muscles. A great addition to your cool down is using a foam roller. A post-exercise massage can also help remove the lactic acid and waste products, while also stretching the muscles and returning them to their pre-exercise state.
Performing warm ups and cool downs will give you better performance in training and races, and help prevent injuries. You can also increase your performance and prevent injury with Active Release Technique®. ART® combines intense active movement-based massage and joint mobilization techniques, which sets it apart from passive massage and physical therapy. At Jonas Chiropractic Sports Injury Care you receive a personal treatment plan geared to your training or recovery goals. We begin by understanding what you do, as it relates to your sport or daily activity, and evaluate your posture to ensure equal and correct balance, and create a plan with a goal. We are dedicated to keeping up with the most effective procedures that provide significant positive results. These can include stretching, strengthening, manipulation, cardiovascular exercise, and other modalities to thoroughly cover all the bases. Our multidisciplinary approach leaves no stone unturned. Our approach is as unique as you are.