Importance of Warm up before Workout or Sports

It is a common fact that you must do warm up exercises before doing any workout or sporting event. But why do we need to do it ? Is there any scientific reason behind that or it is just a way to put your body in slight motion before going for actual pace. Does warm up increase your performance afterwards or decreases it by consuming some amount of muscular energy. You will get answers to such common questions in this article.

Scientific Explanation of Warm up

Warm up is low level activity done prior to more strenuous exercise. It rises body temperature and muscle temperature and alerts it to be ready for more physical activity. Blood starts flowing towards muscular areas to provide more energy to them. It prepares cardiovascular system, respiratory system and nervous system by gradually increasing their activity and demand. Sometime a sports specific workout is done by athletes to make some particular muscles more alert for the upcoming event. Warm up reduces the chances of muscle damage.

What are negative effects of avoiding Warm up ?
Some people think that their body is better than others and they don't need a warm up before workout. Implementation of such thoughts can lead to physical side effects on their body. Some of those negative side effects are described here.
  • Muscle Damage: Muscle damage may occur as a result of avoiding warm up. Especially if you are going for very tough workouts, such as weight lifting. Muscles at low temperature can't bear as much weight and may get damaged as a result of bearing excess pressure.
  • Capacity reduced: As a result of lesser blood supply to the muscles (due to avoiding warm up), the muscles can't work to their full potential and you will feel reduction in your capacity.
  • Muscle Soreness: Muscle soreness may occur due to lack of warm up, as lesser amount of oxygen would be reaching muscles, when they are in need of more.
  • Lack of elasticity: Warm up increases elasticity of muscles. Avoiding warm up results in lesser elasticity, which means lesser strength and more chances of muscle pull.
  • Reaction time: Warm up reduces reaction time, thus increasing performance. But lack of warm up results in more reaction time which can result in bad performance for athletes.
How much warm up is OK ?
There is no specific time limit for warm up. It depends on what you are going to do next. If your task only involves a particular muscle set, then warm up of only those muscles is necessary. Your trainer or coach can give you the correct suggestion about it. Main motive of warm up is to increase body/muscle temperature and increase blood flow. Rising your body temperature by 2 degrees is considered sufficient. However some coaches expect you to sweat before going for actual workout.

Warm up is must during winters
Yes, you heard it right. Cold weather makes our muscles stiff and directly involving them in some strenuous exercise can cause muscle damage. So warm up is must during winters.

Never mix up Warm up with Stretching
Warm up and stretching are two different activities. Stretching can't be considered as warm up. If you directly involve in stretching without any warm up, then it may result is muscle injury. Muscle tear or strain may occur to cold muscles if you directly go for stretching.

Some common warm up exercises are:
  • Jogging
  • Static Running
  • Jump Rope
  • Free Squats
  • Forward and Backward run
  • High knee run
  • Stretching without holding a posture

Note: Never do static stretching before a workout session, as it tells your body to relax and cool down, instead of warming up. So static stretching can cause negative side effects. You may do it after a workout session to relax your body and muscles.

Warm up is a way to tell your heart and body to be ready for some physical activity. Your muscles may mind it, if you don't convey this message. So never forget a warm up before actual workout.

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