By Chris Kennedy
Suffering a debilitating injury – such as a knee, back or shoulder – will stop you exercising eventually. While no one can avoid all risk to injury, there are certainly steps you can take to limit your exposure. Many of these steps take extra effort, but we can guarantee they’ll pay off in the long run when your body is still strong heading into your older years. While you can get away with a lot when you are younger, there is more and more clever research out there confirming your chances of injury are greatly reduced with a proper warm up.
Don’t Rush Into Working Out
One way people get injured is by pushing too hard, too soon, even when their body isn’t adjusted to that pace. When you’re strapped for time (a.k.a. always), spending five, 10, or 15 minutes on a warm-up feels like an act in weight-loss futility. But a proper warm-up can help you get the most out of every rep and bead of sweat. Apart from increasing your heart rate and literally heating up your muscles, warm-ups prime your neuromuscular system to perform better, your anaerobic system to recover faster, and enable every muscle fibre to contract with force. And, don’t worry, a good warm-up will actually burn calories too.
Always Start with your Mobility Drills.
The good old days of walking on a treadmill or going for a jog simply doesn’t cut it. This does nothing to improve tissue quality, specific muscle activation, or get you anywhere near the joint positions you’ll be reproducing in your workout. A proper warm up, begins working on mobility drills especially in your tight or weak areas, to improve your range of movement, alignment and posture. Activation drills to improve motor control and get the appropriate muscles firing right before we use them. For example, the glutes or core muscles will not do their fair share of the work unless ‘switched on’ before you train.
Move gradually to more dynamic exercises
This increases blood flow to the working muscles, allowing you to perform at a higher intensity, which means greater results. This also results in decreased muscle stiffness, less risk of injury and improved performance.
Learn your techniques correctly first before you increase the intensity.
Be patient. Learn to do each exercise correctly first. Then increase the load/tempo gradually.
Forget the short workout of ‘being flogged’
While we understand people these days are busy and it would be great if we could get away with half hour sessions, we would very quickly run out of clients from either getting injured, getting very sick or burning out too soon from the short sharp sessions. Those quick sessions are fine for the younger ones but it doesn’t work as you get older unless you are supremely fit. I would challenge anybody to try working out at full intensity for half an hour 7 days in a row and I can guarantee they will not be able to sustain it, whether they were KO’d by injury, sickness or serious burnout. Sounds great on TV though..
Keep in mind that most of the top sports people warm up for over an hour. Why? Because they can not afford an injury. We only warm up for 8-10 minutes and encourage our clients to get there 5-10 minutes early and do their personal mobility drills if they can’t do them at home.
Know the mobility drills specific to you
While we do a general warm up, you are best to arrive 5-10 minutes early and work on your problem areas. Not sure what they are? Email us and we will organise to meet you before your session to show you
Improve tissue quality.
Elite track athletes often get massage immediately before competition. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have the same means, so this is where foam rolling can come in. Foam rolling is great for mobility and improving tissue quality which will lead to smoother movements.
Don’t confuse warming up with stretching. When stretching, you are focusing specifically on stretching your muscles to increase your range of motion. This is always better at the end of your workout when your muscles are warm and won’t be tightened again after, therefore defeating the purpose.
Waste of time?
More and more research indicating there is not a great lot of benefit in stretching. But it sure feels good! We are not saying don’t stretch, just its probably the least important component of your workout
Make time. You only have ONE body. For god’s sake look after it! 8-10 minutes is normally enough unless you are a beginner, have specific issues or are very tired stiff from your previous workout, and then it should be more.
At Top Coach
We always spend the first eight to ten minutes warming up. This is how important we believe it is. Our brand and core values are all about injury prevention and sustainability, so you can get fitter and stronger as you get older.
Your body will thank you in the long run!