Injury prevention begins with acquiring a foundation of muscular endurance, strength and flexibility to support the body during any type of workout. It is important to exercise according to your fitness level and physical ability; don’t let your desire to be fit move you to exercise longer and/or harder than you should. If you are not sure what is appropriate for you, it would be a great benefit to work with a certified personal trainer.
A proper warm up is essential to preparing the body for the stresses imposed on the body during the workout. The first 5 – 10 minutes of the workout should involve flowing, rhythmic movements at a sub maximal intensity (a mild aerobic intensity, but not the intensity you would achieve during the actual workout) that uses the entire body. An example would be to walk briskly while pumping the arms, or ride a stationary bike and, at the same time, take your arms through several movement patterns that involve multiple directions to get your shoulder, elbow and wrist joints limber. The first several minutes of an aerobic dance class can give you some ideas as to how to perform a proper warm up. If you are still not sure what to do, consult with a certified personal trainer.
A warm up does several things for the body in terms of injury prevention-
- Increases lubrication of the joints, so the joints move more freely.
- Increases the temperature of the body- warm muscles, tendons and ligaments are more supple and move with less stress.
- Redistributes a greater amount of the blood flow to the working muscles, delivering more oxygen to the muscles to produce more energy for the workout, as well as to efficiently excrete carbon dioxide to maintain the pH of the body.
- Stimulates neuromuscular (nerve to muscle) function for more efficient movement.
The warm up is as important as the workout itself. Many people bypass a proper warm up because of time constraints, however the overall workout will be much easier and enjoyable if the body is properly prepared. The warm up allows the body a gradual transition into the higher intensity requirements of the conditioning phase of the workout, thus minimizing premature fatigue.
Trish Schwartz, M.Ed., has worked in the fitness industry for 25 years. Her experience includes owning and operating fitness centers, running her own in-home personal training business, working as a physical education instructor at the collegiate level and teaching at a six-month personal training school. She is a certified Health/Fitness Instructor (HFI) through ACSM and Pilates Mat Instructor through Physical Mind Institute. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education and Master of Education degree in Exercise Physiology from Colorado State University.
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