Week 2: Warm Up, Stretching, and Cool down
It’s easy to overlook the importance of a good warm up. After all, it’s just the opening act before the real thing. But if you skip or skimp on your warm up, you risk poor performance and injury.
The objective of a warm up is to increase body temperature and blood flood to the muscles and joints of the limbs in preparation for training. The best way to warm up your tissues is to keep moving.
Your warm up should last for about 10-15 minutes and should:
- Commence with a quick walk or slow jog
- Progress to a dynamic warm up: which includes stride-outs, and dynamic drills such as heel kicks, skipping, and trunk rotations
- May include dynamic stretching which involves using large muscle groups through increasing joint ranges of motion e.g squats and lunges
- Remember you need to keep moving at all times!
Stretching and cool down
After a workout many of us simply stop! But remember allowing your body to properly cool down after a workout is just as important if not more so than warming up.
Cooling down after a workout enables your heart and breathing rate to slow back to normal.
After walking/jogging/running your muscles tend to shorten in response to the workload of the session. Static stretching will restore muscles to their normal length; this will reduce your injury risk.
10 minutes of a cool down and stretching is a valuable investment in your training as it reduces muscle soreness and joint stiffness and helps to prepare your body for your next training session.
Cool down by slowing your activity, but not stopping it completely. Keep going at the reduced pace for about 5 minutes, gradually slowing down every 1 – 2 minutes, until you are ready to stop
Below is a Stretching Information Poster developed by the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists (ISCP), which provides instructions and demonstrations of stretches for your major muscle groups.
- Hold each stretch for 30-45 seconds.
- DO NOT BOUNCE
- Stretch gently and slowly, keep breathing
- Gently move into the range where you feel the muscle tightens, do not push into pain
- Repeat each stretch 2-3 times
Next time: Minimise the risk of injury
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