Purchasing a gym membership is one of the best things you can do for your health and adhering to a fitness routine will help you lose weight, tone muscles and live longer but all this progress can be ruined by a fitness-related injury. Too many people enter a gym and immediately start working out without having performed the proper warm-up or stretches that will help them avoid injury.
Of course, it’s difficult to get motivated to perform stretches and a warm-up exercise because they don’t produce tangible results like weight loss or muscle growth. But motivating or not, these two important pre-workout steps will help you prevent injuries and muscle soreness.
First, let’s talk about the science of fitness injuries. Muscles, tendons and ligaments are vulnerable to being torn, strained or pulled when they are cold and overused.
The purpose of warm-ups and stretches is to prepare these body parts to be pushed to their limits during exercises. With preparation, tears, strains and pulls can be consistently avoided.Don’t try and save time either by eliminating stretching or warm-ups. They need to be performed together to have any positive affect and it’s important to do your warm-up before stretching.
This is necessary because just like how exercise can tear, strain or pull these body parts when they’re cold, stretching cold muscles, tendons or ligaments can also produce injury. For this reason, it is important to perform a light cardio warm-up before stretching.Such a warm-up should last anywhere between three and ten minutes and can be as simple as using a treadmill, elliptical or freestanding bicycle. Once you’ve completed your warm-up, you should begin stretching.
It’s best to have a regular stretching routine that you adapt on a daily basis depending on what muscle groups you are targeting. If you’ll be doing extra leg exercises, add more leg stretches to your routine that day; if you’ll be doing more arm exercises, stretch your shoulders, rotator cuffs and back more.
It’s simple to design your stretching regimen and it’s important to modify it not only in response to what muscle groups you’re working on one day but also in response to any muscle tightness from the day before. Remember, it’s your body and you’re the one that has to trouble shoot it.
But proper stretching and warm-ups are more important than just avoiding injuries at the gym, they also help prevent muscle soreness. This is serious because muscle soreness can keep you away from the gym and stop your progress in its tracks.
Indeed, injuries threaten to do the very same thing and preventing them – and muscle soreness – is the best way to keep your workout on track. If you have trouble doing the stretches by yourself, your gym should have a machine that will walk you through the stretches and help you make sure you’re doing them correctly.
No matter how you stretch or warm-up, it’s important to do both before you exercise. It’s tempting to skip both these steps before a workout but doing so could lead to an injury that would keep you out of the gym for weeks.