A correct warm-up is the most important part of a work-out. The problem is it can also be a huge waste of time if not done correctly, which makes it an easy part of the routine to cut out if you’re not seeing results. Plus, why would you take 10 minutes away from the time you could spend banging out a few more sets on a bench or running on the treadmill, right? WRONG! Let’s face it, a majority of us spend our time working long hours sitting at a desk, leaning over patients, and traveling hundreds of miles in a car each day. We beat our bodies up at work, causing a ton of muscular imbalance, which leads to joint dysfunction. Pretty soon we’re scratching our heads trying to figure out why everything hurts so badly. This means those of you who are jumping up and down expecting me to tell you to stop working out; I hate to let you down but I’m not going to say that. My point is that you need to have something in your routine that is going to not only prepare your body for what is about to endure, but improve your flexibility to help restore proper joint function. This is where a proper warm-up comes in.
There are many different ways you can warm-up; just like there are many different ways you can work-out. Below is the protocol I follow with my clients as well as myself. It’s not the end all be all but it works and here’s why:
Foam Rolling: Tissue Quality
Also called self-myofascial release or self-massage. The pre-workout benefits include promoting flexibility by loosening up the muscles and the fascia surrounding the muscles and also bringing blood into the area. It’s like ironing out the muscles to prep them for stretching.The key is to hold on tender areas for 30-90 seconds. If the tender area is large, then slowly roll up and down along the grain of the muscle.
Static Stretching: Chronic Injury Prevention
This has been debated for as long as I can remember. Do we static stretch? Do we completely take it out? When is the most optimal time to stretch? Remember this, muscle tissue can change in two ways; it changes in length and density. Foam rolling changes the density of the muscle and static stretching changes the length. Hold each stretch for 30-90 seconds. The latest research shows that it is best to stretch the muscle when it is most prone to increase in length, which is when it is cold. Stretching warm muscles does not seem to produce length in the muscle because it elongates during the stretch, then quickly returns to its normal length after the stretch. Also, if your are worried about decreasing power output; the dynamic warm-up should negate any power output decrease caused by static stretching
Active/Dynamic Warm-up: Acute Injury Prevention
We have all done these before. Lunges with trunk extension, rotation inch worms, high knees, skips and the list goes on. These movements prepare the muscles and joints for what they are about to experience during the work-out. A full body active/dynamic warm-up is best, it is especially important to concentrate on the areas of the body that will be stressed the most during the work-out.