When it comes to injury prevention warming up and cooling down are extremely important and should never be omitted.
Warming up is performed at the beginning of any exercise session and prepares your body for more rigorous activity. There are two generally accepted methods of warming up. One simply involves a short period of performing the intended activity at a low intensity before increasing to the desired level. The second method utilizes “loosening exercises” followed by a few minutes of low-impact aerobic activity and a series of stretching exercises targeting the muscles that will be involved in the activity. A typical warm-up can last anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes depending on your fitness level of the participant and the intensity of your workout.
The warm-up is important because:
- It prepares your body for physical exertion enabling you to get the most out of your session.
- Muscles involved in the activity are prepared for more strenuous movements.
- It reduces injury and premature fatigue.
- It reduces the risk of stress being placed on your heart.
Cooling down is a short phase at the end of an exercise session that gradually brings your body back to its resting level. A cool-down usually involves a period of low-impact aerobic type activity that gradually decreases the intensity of your workout followed by stretching the muscles that were involved in your exercise. After exercising your heart needs to settle down within 30 beats of what it was before your session started.
The cool-down is important because:
Gentle aerobic activity after your workout is believed to reduce muscle soreness and stiffness the day after an exercise session as an extensive supply of oxygenated blood to your muscles assists with the removal of metabolic waste products.
During exercise blood is pumped around the body by the heart with the assistance of muscular contraction. If exercise is suddenly stopped your blood is no longer assisted in its return to the heart and may cause you to feel faint.