With obesity becoming a growing epidemic, more and more people are being encouraged to participate in athletic activity of some kind–but often, they are not counseled on the importance of warming up. This article discusses how to properly warm up before exercises, and briefly touches on some of the more serious risks associated with a failure to warm up. Make sure you read this before heading to the gym!
How to Warm Up
Before we actually begin to discuss some of the ways that the lack of a proper warm up can be dangerous, it is essential that you understand what a good warm up actually entails. Many people believe that warming up before activity can actually be counter productive in that it uses up some of the energy that could be used later during the actual athletic performance–but in reality, this is nowhere near the truth. Research has found that warming up not only prevents injury, but can actually improve athletic performance. In order to properly warm up, start by walking around the area that you will be exercising in at a brisk pace. This not only helps to raise your heart rate, but also gets blood pumping to the working muscles. Next, do some exercises that are similar to those that will be done during the athletic activity–for example, if you will be rock climbing, do some stair steps. This mimics the activity, and helps your body to prepare for the actual event. Finally, do some stretches that are similar to those that will be done during the exercise.
One of the most dangerous risks of not properly warming up involves a torn muscle. Torn muscles are very dangerous in that they not only can be painful, but sometimes a torn muscle can take months or even up to a year to heal properly–and in this time, you may have lost high amounts of endurance or athletic skill. It is important to protect your muscles from being torn at all costs–and while some people believe that taping body parts can help eliminate a torn muscle from occurring, the only real way to prevent this is to engage in a proper warm-up. Be sure to stretch all muscles that will be engaged in the activity in order to achieve optimal results.
Decreased Athletic Performance
Finally, as discussed above, the failure to warm up properly can not only lead to torn, damaged muscles, but may also negatively impact athletic performance. For example, say you need to sprint quickly after a defendant–but since you have not stretched the muscles in your legs, you are not able to take long enough strides to catch him, and he scores a goal to win the game. Similarly, failing to stretch properly will limit your ability to jump, throw a ball, and block defenders.