We all know the importance of a good warm-up and cool-down session. Beyond promoting an injury-free training session, it can also help enhance athletic performance. Here are some mistakes that you may have been making unknowingly.
Do not start with static stretches
A static stretch is when you hold a stretched position for over 30 seconds. Doing so can reduce your athletic performance by hampering strength and power expression. As such, explore dynamic stretches that focus more on movement quality instead.
Rushing your warm-ups and cool-downs is far from effective and can even cause muscle strains, or worse, tears. If you are warming up for squats, deadlifts and lunges, be sure to do a bunch of dynamic stretches targeting your hips, quads, hamstrings and the rest of your lower body before moving on to the main event.
No sudden stops
Pacing yourself during your workout is crucial to ensure that you approach cooling down properly. This way, you can gradually lower your core temperature and heart rate which will prepare your muscles for recovery. While it can be tempting to fall flat on the ground to rest after a demanding workout, try your best to progressively reduce the intensity for better post-workout results.
Avoid doing the same warm up
Vary your warm ups for different workouts. If you are training for runs, give your legs and hips a little more attention during the warm up and cool down. You should also tailor your warm-ups to how your body feels at that point in time. For example, if you’ve been sitting at the desk the whole day and your shoulders feel tight, maybe try including some rear deltoid and scapulae work in your warm-ups.
Use foam rollers
Foam rollers are a cheap alternative to deep tissue massages. Done properly, it can increase your joint’s range of motion, lower muscle soreness and speed up muscle recovery. Pick a foam density of your choice based on how much compression you need/can tolerate. Trigger point therapy balls are another popular choice, especially for those hard-to-reach spots like the tensor fasciae latae (TFL).
What you do leading up to your actual training may seem trivial, but it’s always the little things that tend to have a significant impact on our results. Making small but conscious changes to how you approach warming up and cooling down not only makes you more mindful of the condition of your body, but will also go a long way towards assisting in its maintenance.