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Warm-Ups Before Exercise: Why They’re Important!

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If you’ve played any kind of sport in school, you’d probably remember your PE teacher screaming, “Warm-ups first, before you start playing!” That’s the first thing you hear everywhere right? Warm-ups are very important before you do any kind of strenuous exercise. But, why are they so important? Why is it that they have become an inseparable part of our exercise routines? Well, we answer these questions and a lot more in this blog. Read on!

What are Warm-up Exercises?

By definition, warm-up exercises are a set of activities or movements that help prepare your body for any kind of sport or intense athletic activity that you have planned. Warm-up exercises are of different kinds, ranging from stretches to jogging. They’re highly recommended as they provide a variety of benefits to your body while preparing it for a strenuous time. Further, warm-up exercises are also useful at the end of particularly strenuous workout sessions as they help in recovery as well.

What are the benefits of warm-up exercises?

Even the simplest of exercises, when done right, provide a whole host of benefits including:
Increasing your body’s core temperature. This makes your muscles more soft and supple, protecting them from the wear and tear caused by your intense athletic exertion. These also reduce the chances of muscle injuries occurring while engaging in athletic exertions. These exercises help in loosening up your joints. This reduces the risk of injury and helps with improving your performance in the sport or activity of your choice. Warm-up exercises also gradually improve your heart rate preparing your heart for the stress of more intensive activities. Studies show that warm-up exercises make your body more flexible allowing for an improved performance during the activity itself. It helps improve your body’s overall range of motion. Warming up also helps your body recover faster from any strain or stiffness caused by the activity or sport itself.

Types of Warm-up Exercises

There are different types of warm-up exercises that you can indulge in. Different types are perfect for different types of activities. They can be included under the following:

Dynamic Warm Up

Dynamic warm-up exercises are a set of drills or exercises that mimic the upcoming activity. They take your body through the full range of motions that the upcoming sport or athletic exertion needs. For example, if you’re about to go for a long run, a set of lunges and stretches that exert your thighs, feet, and hips would be the perfect dynamic warm-up exercise for you. These are usually multiple instances of the same drill to get the body used to the exercise.

Static Warm Up

These are exercises wherein you don’t move around, but rather stay in a single position and hold it. These kinds of warm-ups usually help improve stamina and endurance, allowing for the muscle to hold a position for a certain amount of time. These also help your tissues and ligaments prepare for the load that will be placed on them during the activity.

Passive Warm-Ups

These are usually supplementary to the exercises that can help your body. During passive warm-ups, the body’s temperature increases through other means. It could be through a sauna, heat belts, hot bags, or a cold/hot shower. Passive warm-ups, while giving you the benefits of a warm-up exercise without the associated fatigue, are not entirely effective in helping you during an athletic performance.

How to Structure a Proper Warm-up Routine?

You need to treat your body with care for your warm-up routine to work. The key is to slowly increase the workload on your body before reaching full intensity. It ensures that your body doesn’t break down mid-exercise or mid-sport. So, here’s how you can structure a perfect warm-up session:

Begin with a General Warm-Up Routine:

These are basic sets of exercises like jogging, running, or swimming that prepare your body and gently warm up your muscles. It could also include aerobics and should generally last 5-10 minutes for optimal impact.

Static Stretching:

Another 5-10 minutes should be spent on static stretches. These allow for improved flexibility while minimizing the threat of injury or muscle fatigue before the sport or activity itself. Stretching allows for the lengthening of tendons and muscles, resulting in an improved range of movements in your body.

Sport-Related Warm-Up & Dynamic Warm-Up:

These are highly specific sets of exercises that help you with the upcoming activity or sport. These are more vigorous in nature and come with a bit of an increased risk for injury. Post this, you can go through a set of dynamic warm-ups that will perfectly prime your body for the upcoming activity.

Warm-Up Exercises and Injury Prevention:

While it is quite difficult to exactly tell what causes a sports injury or strain, studies do show that going through a proper warm-up routine significantly reduces the risk of muscle injuries (which make up almost 1/3rd of all sports-related injuries).

How to make your warm-up exercises effective!

Here are a few tips to make your warm-up exercises most beneficial to your body.

Start your warm-up before an upcoming activity or sport. This helps keep your body warm enough for the strenuous period that it will have to undergo.
Begin slowly. Even with warm-up exercises, starting with the really advanced ones could increase the risk of injury or strains. Begin with the simpler ones and slowly increase the intensity till you reach a peak.
Exercise till you sweat but not so much that your body begins to fatigue. Remember, the main focus should be on the upcoming activity.

With this guide with you, you’re well on your way to becoming the everyday athlete you want to be. Follow this space for more such guides and blogs!

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