22 Feb Warming up – an important part of every day
Everybody knows that it is important to warm up before undertaking strenuous exercise, but are you aware of the benefits of warming up before starting your working day? Here we will look at some of the physiological and psychological effects of warming up, and how they might help us perform better and avoid injury.
The science of warming up and stretching
Warming up has been the subject of intensive study by sports scientists and doctors. A review and meta-analysis of the published literature (Fradlin AJ et al, 2010) on the effect of warming up concluded that warming up improved performance across 79% of the parameters studied, with very little evidence of detrimental effects.
Stretching before and after exercise is often considered to be a way of avoiding injury and reducing muscle soreness, but not all scientists believe that it really is beneficial. Experiments on army recruits (Herbert RD, 2002) indicated that stretching didn’t prevent soreness or injury, and other studies concur. In fact, with some athletes stretching can impair both strength and speed.
Stretching can improve flexibility, but current thinking is that it is better to concentrate on warming up rather than stretching muscles. Stretching can be used effectively to increase the range of motions you can perform and improve your normal daily life activities. It can play an important part in warm up, but it is should be incorporated correctly, so check with your coach on the best way of doing so.
What does warming up achieve?
The overall aim of warming up is to increase your heart rate gradually and increasing the blood circulation through your entire whole body. It also has the psychological benefit of preparing you mentally for the forthcoming exercise or sport. More specifically, the benefits of warming up include:
- Increase the blood flow to the muscles to prepare them for the extra workload
- Deliver extra oxygen and nutrients to the muscles,
- Gradually increase heart rate and avoid rapid increase in blood pressure.
- Prepare nerve-to-muscle pathways for forthcoming activity
- Improve reaction times
- Reduce risk of injury by increasing motion range
- Raise blood temperature to increase stamina
- Mentally prepare for forthcoming exercise
- Increase muscle efficiency
The benefits of warming up before undertaking any strenuous exercise or sport are clear, but warming up is also beneficial at other times. Next we will look at the befits of warming up before starting the working day.
Warm-up for work
One of the main reasons we warm up before taking strenuous exercise is to reduce the risk of injury. But the chances of sustaining a musculoskeletal injury at work are also significant. We can reduce these risks, however, by ensuring that we are physically prepared for the work tasks that we will undertake. The answer is easy; we simply warm up before starting the working day. Not only will this reduce the chances of sustaining injury, it will make us feel fitter and more alert.
Have you considered introducing pre-work stretching and warm up sessions for your staff? For more information on the potential benefits and how you might implement such a scheme, please check our post “Are Your Team Members Ready for Work?”
Fradkin AJ et al, 2010, Effects of Warming-up on Physical Performance: A Systematic Review With Meta-analysis, Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: 24(1), 140-148
Herbert RD, 2002, Effects of stretching before and after exercising on muscle soreness and risk of injury: systematic review, BMJ 2002;325:468