Make sure your warm-ups and cool downs are effective by reading up on these top tips by a chiropractor.
We have all heard it a thousand times – getting moving is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body. Walking, running, lifting weights, playing sports, and everything in between can help burn fat, keep you toned, and even prevent heart disease.
While moving your body is great, if you do not warm-up and cool down before and after a workout, you can be doing more harm than good to your body.
Going straight into a more intense movement if you have not prepared your body can result in some serious injuries.
At some point in your life, you have likely experienced a leg cramp or pulled a muscle by eagerly starting a run before you warmed up. Or perhaps you got painful shin splints after a long walk or hike because you never stretched afterward.
Even though injuries are sometimes unavoidable, you can prevent injuries much of the time by making sure to warm-up and cool down before and after your workout.
Both are simple to do and take no time at all. You can easily add five minutes before and after a workout for warming up and stretches that will leave your body feel strong, healthy, and safe.
This article will share why warm ups and cool downs are important, how to incorporate them into your workouts, and the best options to prevent injury from a chiropractic standpoint.
Why Warm Ups and Cool Downs are Important
Although cooling down after an intense workout is important for recovery, warming up may be even a little more important. During a pre-workout warm up your body pumps blood full of oxygen and nutrients throughout your body to your muscles.
This speeds up your heart rate and your breathing speed up as well. The process allows your body to prepare for higher intensity activity and gears your muscles up before they are about to work.
Without this process, your muscles never have a chance to prepare for an intense state and they can easily get overwhelmed. When this happens, a plethora of injuries can happen.
Your body is strong and powerful, but you also need to be careful and treat it gently.
Upon finishing your workout, even if you just went for a walk, you should give your body a cool down period as well.
Cooling down allows your muscles to slow down and recover, preventing painful muscle cramping and tightness.
Cooling down will also make it much more unlikely you will get dizzy, feel nauseous, or pass out.
An effective cool down will stretch and lengthen your muscles so they can heal and recover nicely.
By stretching after a workout, you will be less likely to experience DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness,) which is the sore and tight feeling you often feel after lifting weights or doing an exercise your body is not used to.
How to Warm-Up and Cool Down Effectively
Warming up and cooling down are simple, stress-free ways to prevent injury, recover, and prepare for your workout. Both only need to be done for five to ten minutes.
A five-minute warm-up before a workout is generally all you need to prepare your body for higher intensity movements.
You will want to warm-up by choosing one exercise or a simple group of movements that will work your whole body.
Cooling down for around five minutes is ideal as well, although ten minutes may be even better. You could spend five minutes walking slowly, riding your bike slower, etc. for the first round of cooling down and the next five minutes can be dedicated to light and relaxing stretches.
Best Ways to Warm-Up and Cool Down
- Walk at a slow pace
- Stretch your arms and roll your neck
- Butt kicks
- Jumping jacks
- Light stretching
- Deep breathing
Before a walk, hike, run, or jump, simply walk at a slow pace to warm-up those big leg muscle groups. While strolling, you can stretch your arms above your head, pull your arms across the opposite side of your body, and roll your neck a few times.
These movements target your legs, butt, arms, and neck ensuring you are loose and engaged everywhere.
Before weight lifting, aerobics, dancing, yoga, Pilates, and other similar workouts butt kicks, jumping jacks, squats, lunges, and some light stretching are great options.
These types of warm-ups engage the major muscles and joints in your body but are lower impact and less strenuous on your body.
Always remember to keep breathing and take deep breaths. When you warm-up, you are looking to make sure oxygen and nutrients are flowing through your blood and getting to your muscles.
You do not want to restrict your breathing and prevent this essential and important process from happening.
Take five deep breath before you increase your intensity and breathe during every part of your warm-up and workout!
- Walk slowly after hiking, jogging, running, fast-paced walking
- Stretch major muscle groups
- Have water
- Talk to a chiropractor
If you have been walking, running, etc. at a faster pace, cool down with a slower walk. You are looking for your breathing to return to normal and your heart rate to slow down.
Walk for five minutes for your cool down portion of the workout or until you are breathing comfortably, and your heart rate slows.
Perform your favorite stretches for your major muscle groups like butt, legs, arms, and neck areas. This will loosen up for muscles and lengthen them out for better recovery.
Post-workout soreness is less likely to occur
Replenish your body with plenty of water. If you are dehydrated after a workout, it will be much harder for your body and muscles to heal properly after a workout.
If your body doesn’t feel right even after warming up and cooling down for your workouts speak to your doctor or chiropractor.
Often times, your body and spine are out of line from a multitude of reasons and chiropractic adjustments can do wonders for the body.
In the end, taking the proper steps to prevent injury with simple warm-ups and cool downs are the key to preventing injuries.
The more consistent you are, the less likely you will hurt your body.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells graduated from the University of Nevada with a Bachelor of Science. He completed his doctorate at Western States Chiropractic College and moved on to found his own practice, Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab, and is now considered one of the best Wasilla chiropractors in Alaska.
Dr. Wells has made it his mission to treat patients with compassion and care due to a lack of patient and high-quality healthcare providers. His main goal is to improve his patient’s quality of life while maintaining professional effective treatment.
As a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians, his knowledge continues to evolve through learning and education in areas such as neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.
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