The Workout Warmup Mistakes That Can Leave You Injured
No workout is complete without a proper warm-up and cooldown. When done correctly, warming up can even reduce your risk of injury and improve your overall athletic performance, according to the American Heart Association.
While the process only takes a few minutes, it’s easy to neglect this essential step of the pre-workout process. Before you hop straight into your next session, incorporate a three to 10-minute warm-up with some light cardio and dynamic stretches to get your heart pumping and your muscles ready to move.
"When the body is not properly warmed up, you have a higher chance of an injury happening, but if you spend time performing a good warm-up, your body will be ready for more intense activity,” says Dave Weaving, owner and operator of the StretchLab facilities in Livingston and Morristown, a unique wellness and fitness provider focused on stretching.
Weaving pointed out that his StretchLab Flexologists utilize a customized one-on-one stretch routine to reduce specific pain and tightness while working to increase a client’s flexibility and range of motion.
Here are some tips to give you the best chance to stay healthy and injury-free.
The Mistake: Starting Off With Too Much Intensity
Your workout should always start at a lighter pace. Imagine yourself doing your normal routine, but in slow motion.
"We call this style of warm-up dynamic," says Weaving. "You are preparing your body for an activity with movement that mimics what you will do in your workout or fitness activity but not at full capacity."
Weaving says that dynamic movements are perfect for increasing your oxygen consumption and other bodily functions prior to diving straight into a full workout.
At a low-to-moderate intensity, conduct a dynamic warm-up before every workout. Make sure you’re going at an easier pace and mimicking your actual exercises.
For example, Weaving says if you're preparing to go for a run, two great warm-up moves would be high knees or butt kickers. “These movements are preparing your legs for the push and pull of a running stride but not at maximum speed.”
The Mistake: Doing Static Stretches First
Obviously, stretching is vital to your well-being, but only when it’s the right kind of stretching. Weaving says there are many common misconceptions about stretching and flexibility training, which is why he believed bringing a StretchLab to his community would benefit them so much.
Static stretching (holding a stretch for at least 30 seconds) improves flexibility, range of motion and helps to increase blood and oxygen distribution throughout your body, but it still isn’t ideal for warm-ups, says Weaving.
The Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that static stretching might even hurt your workout by reducing both your muscle strength and muscle power.
The key to your pre-workout stretch is to involve movement. Dynamic stretches are great for before your workout, while static stretches should be saved for afterward.
The Mistake: Not Warming Up Long Enough
At some point, everyone’s done a light jog for a couple minutes and called it a warmup.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association would say otherwise. According to the NSCA, an effective warm-up should be between five to 10 minutes and include low-to-moderate intensity cardiorespiratory exercise.
More specifically, the length of your warm-up should be determined by how long and how hard you plan on actually working out. For a longer, less intense session, a less intense warm-up is required, and vice versa for a shorter, very intense workout.
Your muscles need enough time to loosen up and get your blood pumping before an intense activity. An easy way to tell if you’ve warmed up long enough is to use a timer and work until you’ve broken a light sweat and raised your breathing rate.
A sprinter, for example, will mimic and prepare for the intensity they plan on needing for their event, while a power lifter will have a more skill-focused warm-up based on different lifting styles.
4.The Mistake: Performing the Same Warm-Up for Every Workout
Just like when working out, you wouldn’t do the same warm-up every day. Do a different warm-up per session depending on the work you want your body to perform that day.
Weaving sees warm-ups as a condensed version of the workout because of how it prepares your body for what is to come. Essentially, your warm-up is the key for you to reach peak performance, prevent injury and mitigate muscle soreness.
If you plan on having a big arm day, a light jog on the treadmill won’t do the trick. Dynamic stretching that incorporates all the muscles you’ll be using combined with light cardio is what will allow peak physical performance.
For more information or to request a discounted assisted-stretch, call StretchLab in Livingston at (973) 738-2000 or visit https://www.stretchlab.com/location/livingston. For StretchLab in Morristown, call (973) 796-2793 or visit https://www.stretchlab.com/location/morristown.