Get ready, get set... but just don't forget to warm up!
A warm up is essential before any keep fit activity or sport to prevent injuries
10 MAY 2011
With summer just around the corner, many of us have suddenly realised it's time to start a new keep-fit routine in a hasty attempt to shed those unwanted winter kilos.
There's no doubt this is a good idea in theory, but you need to curb your enthusiasm and bear in mind that you can't just launch into activity without a second thought: a warm-up session is absolutely essential. Many injuries are simply a result of taking exercise or playing sport without due preparation. So, take our advice and make sure you start off your new keep-fit routine on the right foot.
Warm up exercises serve to prepare the body and ensure that it is working efficiently and smoothly during the main physical activity, whether that is a keep-fit session at the gym, or any other kind of sport.
One of the main objectives is the preparation and adaptation of the athlete ready for the serious effort to come. Above all, the warm up has a preventive function, as it minimises the risk of injury (when the body and muscles are cold, there is a greater danger of tears, joint injuries, etc.)
The warm up consists of two phases: general and specific. During the first, movements are performed using all limbs and muscles. This usually includes gentle running and stretching exercises, and movements that encourage joint mobility, coordination, etc. The second stage of the warm up, should be focused on the activity that is to follow, and exercises should be adapted to prepare the body for the more intense and extreme activity that will be demanded of it.
A gradual warm up raises the temperature of the muscles, improving elasticity and increasing the speed of electrical conductivity, resulting in faster neuromuscular reflexes.
The degree or level of warm up appropriate depends on many factors including the type of sport to be undertake, the age of the athlete, experience, state of health and even external factors such as the weather.
Experts agree that there should not be a pause of more than 15-20 minutes between the warm up and the main activity.
It is important to pay special attention to shoulder, knee and ankle joints, as these are particularly prone to injury.