Warm up or cool down?

Warm up or cool down?

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

The question has been asked for decades… is it necessary to warm up or cool down before or after exercise? And if so, What should one do? What actually does it mean to warm up? Can’t I just put a warm jacket on? And isn’t cooling down just driving home from the gym with the air con blasting?! 

Many people see the benefit in preparing their body for exercise, but often they don’t do it correctly. So what should you do to warm up before exercise, or to cool down afterwards? Or is it the same thing? Much of the confusion comes from not understanding the difference between a warm up and stretching. Many believe that stretching before exercise prevents injuries, even though the clinical research suggests otherwise. In fact, stretching cold muscles could even cause a serious injury! A better interpretation is that a warmup prevents injury, whereas stretching improves flexibility and range of motion. 

Instead of stretching, most experts recommend warming up with a brisk walk, light jog or sport specific exercise, like kicking or throwing a ball. This type of light movement increases the heart rate and blood flow to the muscles, warming up the body temperature. You can then do some very gentle stretches of your pre warmed muscles before you continue onto your main exercise session. 

Then, after exercise, cool down by slowing down your pace with some gentle walking. It is not advisable to just suddenly stop cold period once your heart rate is returning to normal, take the time to stretch out the muscles you have utilised. Have a given stretch only until you feel a slight pulling in the muscle, but no pain. As you hold the stretch the muscle will relax and you can then increase the stretch again until you feel the same slight pull. 

Allow your body time to warm up before exercising and follow this with a cool down. After to recover. This will give you more out of your exercise session an intern, more out of your body! And remember: always listen to what your body is telling you during your exercise programme to help avoid fatigue or injury. Trust your body’s prompts, exercise sensibly, and the benefits will be yours. 

Dr. Steve Hodal is committed to providing high-quality, individualized chiropractic care in a comfortable and relaxed environment. He is dedicated to providing evidence-based treatments that are tailored to each patient’s individual needs, allowing them to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Contact us to know more about this disorder or Book Online.