There is no doubt that time spent on warming up and cooling down will improve an athlete’s level of performance and accelerate the recovery process needed before training or competing again. As a result the coach must encourage the athlete to regard the warm up and cool down as an essential part of both the training session and competition itself. I also want to make clear that this just doesn’t apply to athletes. The general population should follow the basic guidelines as well with of course some exceptions such as being excessively overweight, injuries, etc.
Muscle stiffness is thought to be directly related to muscle injury and therefore the warm up should be aimed at reducing muscle stiffness.
Warming up should at least consist of the following:
· 5 to 10 minutes jogging – to increase body temperature
· 10 to 15 minutes dynamic stretching exercises (The dynamic exercises you incorporate into your warm up program should be appropriate to the movements you would experience in your sport/event.) – reduce muscle stiffness
· 10 to 15 minutes general and event specific drills – preparation for the session or competition. · 4 to 8 easy run outs over 30 to 60 metres – focus on correct running technique
· Dynamic stretches are more appropriate to the warm up as they help reduce muscle stiffness. Static exercises do not reduce muscle stiffness.
What are the benefits of a warm up?
Performance may be improved as an appropriate warm up will result in an:
· Increased speed of contraction and relaxation of warmed muscles.
· Dynamic exercises reduce muscle stiffness.
· Greater economy of movement because of lowered viscous resistance within warmed muscles.
· Facilitated oxygen utilization by warmed muscles because hemoglobin releases oxygen more readily at higher muscle temperatures.
· Facilitated nerve transmission and muscle metabolism at higher temperatures; a specific warm up can facilitate motor unit recruitment required in subsequent all out activity.
· Increased blood flow through active tissues as local vascular beds dilate, increasing metabolism and muscle temperatures.
Warming down should consist of the following:
· 5 to 10 minutes jogging/walking – decrease body temperature and remove waste products from the working muscles
· 5 to 10 minutes static stretching exercises- decrease body temperature, remove waste products from the working muscles and to increase range of movement.
Static stretches are more appropriate to the cool down as they help muscles to relax and increase their range of movement.
What are the benefits of a cool down?
An appropriate cool down will:
· Aid in the dissipation of waste products – including lactic acid
· Reduce the potential for DOMS.( Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) .Muscle soreness that occurs some 24 to 48 hours after intense exercise usually involves eccentric contractions. This causes increases in intracellular pressure that irritates the nerve endings, producing swelling and local pain. The soreness can be an indication of potential muscle adaption to follow, but if it persists or is debilitating then it could indicate over training and large muscular tissue damage.
· Reduce the chances of dizziness or fainting caused by the pooling of venous blood at the extremities.
· Reduce the level of adrenaline in the blood.