Exercise provides a range of health benefits including weight and stress management, increased lean muscle mass, and entertainment in the form of hobbies and sports. An injury can quickly halt regular exercise. Help prevent injuries with these warm up and cool down tips.
A study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine looked at recreational soccer players and found that an intense warm-up including repeated sprints as well as exercises such as squats, leg lifts and vertical leaps reduced injuries by about 40 percent. A calmer, 10-minute warm-up consisting of various jumping, shuffling and balancing exercises did not seem to create the same effect. Researchers believe the intense warm-up improved muscle strength, balance and coordination, leading to fewer injuries.
On the flip side, the less intense option can be better for a cool down. When blood samples were taken from athletes doing a casual cool down (slow pedaling) vs. going into an ice bath, the results were not significantly different when looking at inflammation markers. Cool downs are helpful to ease bodies down from a workout, but taking “cool down” literally by taking an ice bath isn’t as helpful as many people think. If you like taking an ice bath, enjoy it-- but if it sounds less than appealing you’ll get the same recovery by performing some light cool down movements.
Bottom Line: Warm-ups prepare your body for upcoming physical exertion, so take it seriously at the level that’s appropriate for you to prevent injuries. Cool downs can be more relaxed.
Written by: Kyla Greenwell, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern