Warming Up

Before training or exercise, it’s important to warm up the body.

Specifically, warming up entails exercising the large muscle groups. Doing this will increase the body’s temperature and heart rate. The warm-up should be intensive enough to perhaps cause perspiration but not to cause fatigue.

Warming up will increase the blood flow to the working muscles, which can raise the flow of oxygen to the muscle cells and help remove waste products such as lactic acid; it will also increase the speed and force of muscular contractions because nerve impulses travel faster at higher body temperatures and muscles will become less stiff (or ‘viscous’). It will also protect the major joints, because it takes time to increase the supply of synovial fluid and thicken the articular cartilages- the body’s shock absorbers.

The aim of a warm up is to prepare the body (and mind) for the more energetic demands to come and be appropriate for the activity planned. Mobilising the joints should always be included as part of a warm up to help release any stiffness that may have been built up during the day- for example, tension in the neck and back muscles resulting from sitting for long periods at a desk. By freeing up the major joints a greater range of movement can be achieved during the main activity. Joints to be mobilised are the ones that will be used during the exercise and all movement should be small and then increased.