Do you warm up before you workout? Do you cool down? I know, me either. I’ve just got into the habit of stretching and no, warming up and cooling down are NOT the same thing as stretching.
This week I was mulling over some guides from Tribesports.com and it’s become apparent that I am going to have to rearrange my routine to include a warm up and cool down. A typical day at the gym for me looks like this: I hop on the treadmill, stretch for a second, then walk for 1.5 miles at 4 mph. Then I either sprint, run or do a mix of jogging and walking on a incline for 2.5 miles. After this I hit the elliptical for 20-40 minutes. Strength training comes next, followed by stretching for probably one minute. I go home.
So technically I do warm up before I begin to run, but the rest? Not so much. And according to the guides on the site I may be robbing myself of of serious benefits.
According to The Importance of Aerobic Warm Up Routines Guide, warm ups like “jogging or light cycling” heat muscles so they can contract more powerfully, making your movements more effective. It also helps your range of motion, which is appealing if you find yourself always feeling stiff and limited when you’re working out. There are other benefits, but I’m not going to tell you them because I think you should read it for yourself.
You may have recalled a year or so ago some studies came out saying that stretching before a workout was bad, because it cools down the muscles, limiting motion. But you don’t want to be just stretching before you workout. You want to practice dynamic stretching. The Benefits of A Warm Up With Dynamic Stretching Guide shows how specific stretches help to prepare your muscles for the task at hand and improves your range of motion.
The How To Cool Down Guide is my favorite, because it shows how cooling down after an intense workout can prevent things like lactid acid build up-something I’m constantly dealing with. The cool down can help the body release waste products and even reduce the type of muscle soreness that can keep you from going to the gym the next day.
So I’ll be trying to add these three things into my routine. Let me know if you warm up, do dynamic stretches or cool down? Do you find any of these things helpful?