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Warm-Up & Cool-Down
PROPER WARM-UP AND COOL-DOWN
by Troy Schultz
Before beginning any vigorous physical activity, you should gradually prepare the body to avoid muscle or tendon injury. A proper warm-up will gradually increase muscle temperature, circulation, blood pressure, joint range of motion and neuromuscular-pattern preparation. The following is a proper sequence of warm-up activities to be performed 5 to 10 minutes, prior to vigorous exercise:
1. Slow jog in place or use basic kickboxing movements (e.g., stepping, switching feet, skipping, etc.) This will cause a gradual increase in heart rate, blood pressure, circulation, and muscle temperature.
2. Slow joint rotation exercises (e.g., arm circles, hip rotations, knee/ankle rotations, etc.) to gradually increase joint range in motion. Rotation exercises should be performed for 5 to 10 seconds at each joint.
3. Stretching the muscles to be used during the upcoming exercise. Slow static stretching will loosen up muscles and tendons and enable them to achieve greater ranges of motion with less chance of injury. Hold stretches from 10 to 15 seconds or up to 30 seconds for long term flexibility improvement. Avoid bouncing or bobbing movements.
4. Slow mimicking of the activities to be performed (e.g., shadow boxing, lifting a light weight to warm-up for the heavier one, swinging a golf club, basic elements of motion, etc.). This allows neuromuscular preparation for the upcoming activity.
Stopping suddenly after vigorous exercise can be very dangerous, even fatal. You should gradually decrease your activity to bring the body back to its resting state. The following is a proper sequence of cool—down activities:
1. Slow the activity down gradually. The body has a limited blood supply. Adequate blood flow to the brain and heart must be maintained, while large quantities are being pumped to the exercising muscles. A sudden stop may cause blood to pool in those muscles and restrict adequate quantities to the heart and brain. The result can be fainting, heart attack, or stroke.
2. Repeat the stretches done during the warm—up to ease muscle tension and soreness. Caution! be careful to not overstretch since muscles are very warm from the previous exercise.
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