Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why You Should Warm Up

Oh my goodness, I am SO SORE I can hardly get out of bed. Luckily, I don't really have to! Yes, that's right, The Great Weekend continues - we're onto snow day #6! (And it really is a blizzard out there!)

Have I told you recently how much I
love DC snow removal???

Anywho, let's talk about why I'm so sore. I had planned to meet a friend for a little jog (soft j) in the snow yesterday...but then yesterday morning, said friend suggested we go to a "Bootcamp" class at the gym instead.

Ok, sure! Why not? I agreed. Knowing, but not really knowing what I was getting myself into. (Mollie, the compulsive volunteer, strikes again!)

And the class was, well, bootcamp-ish. It was fun, but HARD. I mean, I'm a runner (albeit a rather pathetic out-of-commission one recently, but a runner nonetheless). That means that thought I do yoga and abs, and the occasional strength exercises, I am certainly not in the habit of doing any kind of plyometric training!

Burpees, squat jumps, lateral box jumps, etc. There was a time in my life when I was totally into that stuff (remember I used to ski race)...but it was a good solid 5 years ago, and I think that all those explosive muscles have long been superseded by lean running muscle...

All I could think of during the 40-minute class was how
absolutely horrified all running coaches I've ever had would be. We didn't warm up or stretch at all. Not to be the lame-o, but I felt like asking the teacher, Shouldn't we kind of ease into this? Maybe do some easy preliminary stuff to get our muscles warm before we go into a full-scale plyometric circuit? Stretch perhaps?

It's not as if all the participants were ex-football playing marines or anything...they were a pretty random collection of young to middle-aged-ish men and women, just trying to get a good workout in on a snowy day.

So that class,
sans warm-up, is the perfect set-up for disaster.

Maybe I am being lame, but I've had it drilled into me since I took my first ballet class at the age of 3 that
you need to warm up. Before a running workout, I usually run a 15-20 minute warm-up, stretch, then start my reps. And after I'm done, I stretch a bit more, then slowly jog anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes for my cool-down (that much probably isn't exactly necessary...but it doesn't hurt, and I just like to get my mileage in).

If you just jump in and start running fast (or jumping, or whatever), your muscles kind of freak out and immediately tighten up. This can lead to injury while you're exercising, and also make you feel like
OMG I cannot move! the next day.

So all I'm saying is, warm up...and cool down. I missed the first part yesterday (I did a little run to cool down), and am currently kind of hating life and hobbling around and groaning like a 90-year-old.

10 Reasons to Warm Up
  1. Warming up helps break down the chemical complex of oxygen. So what? Well, this enables it to separate from the blood and increases oxygen delivery to the muscle, crucial during a workout.
  2. Warming up reduces the potential for muscle and connective injuries and increases body temperature.
  3. It increases blood flow to exercising muscles and guess what? The more blood that reaches the muscles, the easier the delivery of nutrients required for energy production.
  4. Increases blood flow to the heart. This one is key, since more blood to the heart means a reduced risk for exercise-induced cardiac problems.
  5. Decreases muscle viscosity (aka resistance). Warming up makes muscles suppler.
  6. Helps promote sweating and sweating is great! It reduces the amount of heat stored in the body, something your body spends a lot of energy doing.
  7. Enhances the speed of transmission of nerve impulses. What? Makes your motor skills better! You know how your body feels really slow in the morning when you’ve just gotten out of bed? You’re not warmed up.
  8. Helps more blood reach muscles and connective tissue. The more blood reaching the muscles, tendons and ligaments, the more elastic the tissues. This means better performance and a reduced chance of injuries.
  9. Lets the cardiovascular system know what’s coming. When you workout, you demand more blood and oxygen. Warming up helps the heart and blood vessels adjust to this idea.
  10. Lets muscles know what’s coming. Warming up may actually make you less sore the next day.
How To Warm Up and Cool Down
Should I Change My Warmup and Cooldown in Colder Weather?