The Warm Up

An effective warm up before exercise is an important aspect to a training regime. Professional athletes devote considerable attention to their warm up because they know it will improve their performance and reduce injury risk.

The principals of warming up are to prepare the body for intense activity without risking injury in the process or causing undue fatigue. It also serves to focus the mind on the forthcoming event and should be tailored to the intended activity.

Upon the commencement of activity a number of physiological changes occur in order to meet the demands and an effective warm up will activate these changes.

For muscles to produce extra power they need to be supplied with more fuel and oxygen. This is achieved by diverting blood flow to the active muscles and away from non essential activity. The heart beats more strongly and faster to supply this blood and the lungs breathe more deeply and frequently to deliver the additional oxygen.

Active muscles produce heat and this must be dissipated to avoid overheating which will compromise cellular functioning. Blood diverts to the skin to release excessive heat by sweating.

Most exercise requires the body’s joints to move over a greater range than when at rest. The heat produced with activity makes the bodies tissues more elastic and able to function over a greater range without injury.

A warm up is also an opportunity to practice the skilful movements required for the forthcoming event and to focus the mind on the competitive strategies to be employed.

An optimal warm up takes 15 to 20 minutes of a step wise increase in intensity and stretching. However anything is better than nothing and performing a warm up routine regularly will improve performance and reduce injury.