Health Notes

Exercise: Warm-Ups do a Body Good

by Pat Wilson, PT, OCS, CSCS on February 5, 2014

It is go time!  You planned out your exercise program.  You set your fitness and weight loss goals. You even went shopping to find those after-Christmas sales on exercise shoes, shorts and an awesome new watch you don’t know how to program yet.

Before you attack your exercise program and push your body to do things you haven’t done since your early 20s, remember your body has to have time to acclimate. Avoiding injuries and setbacks during this “introduction” phase is paramount (unless you want to spend more quality time with your friendly neighborhood physical therapist).

Nothing sidetracks your planning and good intentions faster than an injury. Our first look at changing how we use our bodies is finding a good warm-up plan. A warm-up should last around ten minutes and gradually change our bodies “readiness” state prior to doing more difficult exercises. It also gets our mind ready for activity. We all know this can be the biggest hurdle if we want our exercise program to have “staying power” over the long haul.

Studies suggest a good warm-up prior to more intense exercise allows our bodies to not only perform better, it may help prevent injuries as well.

Before I give you a sample warm-up, I need to clear up one common misconception: stretching alone does not equal a warm-up. Stretching, or end-range motions, should be included to improve a body’s readiness state. A quick Google search will show you how many differing views the “experts” have on stretching. For the purpose our blog, we will continue to show some stretching, however the warm-up phase is our first task.

Walking/Marching

Walking

Start by doing some light walking and progress to a moderate speed. Marching in place is also a good first movement. Gradually increase the intensity by bringing your knees higher and your arms into the movement as well. This can last anywhere from one to three minutes and should be fairly comfortable. You should start to feel a warming effect, and your breaths will become more frequent. You should be able to have a normal conversation without stopping.

Reaches

Four different reach stretches will help loosen up your muscles.

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First, reach over your head
and breathe in.
Then bend down slightly and reach behind you as you blow out. Hold each position for a count of ten and repeat this five times.
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Next, keeping your feet facing forward, twist and reach your arm across your body. Do this on each side. Finally, with your arms raised and elbows bent, push your chest forward with a slight arch. Widen up your stance and bend your knees for balance.


Leg Stretches

Prepare your hamstrings, quads and calves by stretching and holding each position for a count of ten and repeat this five times.

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To stretch your hamstrings, keep your back straight, hips forward and chest up. Hold for a count of ten and repeat five times with each leg. If position A is too strenuous for you, try position B.
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To stretch your quads, pull your leg up backwards. Hold for a count of ten and repeat five times with each leg. If you are unable to grab your leg as shown in position A, try position B.


Upper Body Stretches

Stretching your upper body will help prepare your arms, chest and back for exercise. Hold each of these positions for a count of ten and repeat this five times with each side.

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Hip Stretch

Hip Stretch

To stretch your hips, sit in a chair with your back straight and your foot on one knee. Straighten your back and lean forward. Hold for a count of ten and repeat five times with each leg.

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Work Out Without the Gym
March 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm

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