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Warm ups are always important. They gradually raise your heart rate, and get you breathing a little faster. This sends more oxygen, energy, and nutrients to your heart, lungs, and muscles so they can perform at their best. A dynamic warm-up is the best way to get the aerobic energy system started, and prepare your body for activity. This process allows you perform better and reduce your risk of injury.
Whats the difference in the cold?
Our bodies have a few tricks to stay warm in the cold. One of these is to narrow the blood vessels closest to the skin. That means that the more superficial muscles get less blood flow, making them more likely to be injured if you place too much demand on them before they’re ready. The restriction in the blood vessels also makes your heart work harder. This doesn’t mean you can’t be active in the cold, it just means that you should take a little more time to get your body ready.
Implement a Dynamic Warm-Up
We strongly encourage implementing a dynamic warm-up to prepare your body for activity. Start with something to raise your heart rate, maybe a brisk walk, a light jog or even skipping. Often times we’ll have our athletes do movements like back pedaling, side pedaling and karaoke running drills. This allows your body to warm up in 3 dimensions (front, back, and side-to-side).
Follow with Dynamic Stretching:
- Walking – Knees to Chest: In a standing position, bring one knee up towards your chest and pull your leg towards your chest for a brief period and release. Alternate this movement between your left and right leg up to 5 repetitions on each side.
- Walking – Hip Cradle: In a standing position, lift your ankle up towards your hips and grab your ankle with both hands. You should feel the stretch in your hips. Alternate this movement between left and right ankle up to 5 repetitions on each side.
- Front Kicks: With you knees almost straight, kick one leg forward to loosen your ham-strings. Alternate between each leg up to 5 repetitions on each side. If balance is a challenge, use one arm to stabilize yourself against a wall or post.
- Lunges with a Twist: Stand with feet parallel and take an exaggerated step forward. Once your leading foot is firmly planted, allow your knee and hip to bend slowly into a lunging position. Aim to keep your torso upright with your knee directly over your ankle. From this position extend your opposite arm overhead for a side stretch.
Check out this example of our Dynamic Warm-up for tennis athletes
Consider Your Clothes
Dress in layers so you can adjust your clothing to your activity level. After you warm up, you might want to take off a layer to avoid getting too hot during your main activity. You can always add layers back when your activity level drops or the temperature changes.
Even Though it's Cold, Cool Down.
We know it’s tempting to rush inside to a warm blanket and hot drink, but don’t skip the cool down. Keep moving with a walk or another form of active recovery so your heart rate can come down gradually. A cool-down also helps your muscles to transition back to a relaxed state and can reduce soreness following your workout. Since your muscles are still warm, your cool-down is the right place for static stretching.
Static stretching as opposed to dynamic stretching is when you stretch a muscle for a 20- 30 second periods. The purpose of the static stretching is to make sure you return the muscle to its optimal length and limit unwanted tightness to occur.
The shorter days and lower temperatures don’t mean that you’re stuck inside for all of your exercise. Follow these tips and you can safely keep moving outside. If you’d like a customized warm up or cool down, or have questions about your exercise routine, our team of experts will gladly provide you with the education to help reach your goals.
– The Salinas Team