It’s the one thing many of us (non-professional, anyway) fitness enthusiasts tend to conveniently forget/ignore/completely disregard; Warming up & Cooling down effectively. Yet doing so drastically minimises your chances of injury and can also reduce the severity of the dreaded DOMS.
I know how much I struggle with even the most simple of tasks when I’ve got a bad case of DOMS (mainly not being able to sit on and in turn get up off the toilet) so if this post can help you and/or I suffer less when performing minor tasks, then all was not in vain.
Warming up really is fundamental to your workout, doing so gently eases your body into the intense exercise a head which can considerably reduce the chances of injury. The increased blood flow which is induced by warming up promotes loosening of the muscles meaning there is far less tension in them when you do begin exerting more stress on them through exercise.
Warming up also gently increases your heart rate minimising stress here also, in turn lessening the initial demand on circulatory and metabolic systems. This process enables your body to slowly divert your blood flow to the working muscle groups. You should begin to perspire during your warm up but not experience any form of exhaustion so for a normal Cardio and weight session 5 minutes always seems like a good place to start.
Dynamic & Specific stretches
Just as important as The Warm up but for me, even more over looked. The aim of the cool down is to gradually return your body, muscles, heart rate and blood flow to a resting state. Once I have completed the various stages of my work out I try to schedule in 3-5 minutes of cooling down where my aim is to slowly bring any intense running to either a jog or a brisk walk returning my muscles to a more relaxed motion. I also like to ensure I have a fresh and cool litre of water in my Brita Water bottle to help regulate my body temperature. The cooling down process will also ensure your breathing returns to a normal pattern along side your body which together is a saving grace for preventing DOMS, aiding overall recovery and your bodies efficiency during the repair process.