Most of us know how important it is to keep ourselves physically active, and all the benefits that come along with regular exercise (reduced stress, improved cardiovascular and muscular health, etc.). The one thing that most of us forget about is the importance of performing both a warm up and a cool down before and after our exercise sessions. Most of us (myself included!) are guilty of jumping right into our exercise session with no preparation. Though most evidence in the literature shows that a warm up or cool down does not necessarily prevent overuse injuries, performing a warm up can be helpful for preventing acute injuries, such as muscle strains.
The purpose of the warm up phase is to allow the body to adjust to the changing physiological, biomechanical, and bioenergetic demands placed on it during the exercise bout. A warm up should consist of approximately 5-10mins of light aerobic activity, muscle endurance activity, and sport/activity specific activity such as agility drills. Warm up exercises can also include injury specific activities for someone who has experienced an exercise specific injury before. For example, a warm up for someone who has had an ankle sprain before could include some balance exercises, and motor control exercises. Speak to your physiotherapist to discuss some ideas for warm up exercises that are specific to your area of injury!
The purpose of the cool down phase is to allow for gradual recovery of your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, while helping to reduce muscle cramping as well as allowing for removal of exercise by-products like lactic acid. A cool down phase consists of 5-10mins of slower movements, such as some light walking and stretching. Just like warm ups, cool downs can be injury specific as well. You may need to spend more time stretching particular areas of your body, depending on your body’s needs.
If you would like some help with developing an effective warm up and cool down routine, consider talking to any of our knowledgeable physiotherapists today! Let’s keep ourselves moving well during these times.