The importance of warming up
Most people do not understand the importance of warming up exercises, especially in contact sports such as Rugby, especially when you are limited to just a few hours of training per week.
Why warm up?
When starting to exercise, your body needs to make some adjustments. These include:
improve breathing and heart rate;
increased reaction releases energy in the muscles;
promote blood flow to the muscles to supply them with more oxygen and to remove waste products.
This adjustment does not happen immediately, it takes several minutes to reach the required level. So, the purpose of warming up is to encourage these adjustments to occur gradually, starting with your training session on an easy level and gradually increasing the intensity. If you start exercising at full capacity without warming up, your body will not be ready for the higher demands made of it, which can cause injuries and unnecessary fatigue.
What is a warm up exercise ?
A warm-up usually takes the form of some gentle exercise that gradually increases in intensity.
A pre-workout warm up:
increases blood flow to the muscles, which improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients;
warms up your muscles, which promotes reactions that release energy used during exercise and makes the muscles more supple;
readies your muscles for stretching;
readiesyour heart for an increase in activity;
readies you mentally for the upcoming exercise;
primes your neural pathways-to-the muscles ready for exercise; and
prevent unnecessary stress and fatigue placed on your muscles, heart and lungs, which can occur if you are exercising hard without warming.
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Warming up is widely seen as a simple measure to prepare your body for exercise of moderate to high intensity and is thought to assist the body in protecting against injury. Despite no real concrete evidence that the warming prevents injuries, anecdotal evidence and logic would suggest that the warming should reduce the risk.
Ensure effective warming up
To make your warmupeffective, you should aim for movements that up the heart rate, breathing levels and warms up the temperature of your muscles. A strong sign of an effective warm up is reaching the point where you are beginning to sweat.
If you’re exercising for general fitness, allow 5 to 10 minutes for your pre-workout warm up (or slightly longer in cold weather).
If you exercise at a level that goes further than simply for general fitness, or play a specific sport, you will most likely require a longer warm-up, and one that is designed specifically for your sport.
To start, you should do a 5-minute warm up of light (low intensity) physical activity such as walking, jogging in place or cycling. Incorporate movement with your arms, such as controlled circular motions with your arms to help warm the muscles of your upper body.
- Specific warm up forsports
One of the best ways to warm up is to do exercises that will come at a slow pace. This enables you to simulate the higher intensity activities of the chosen sport but in a lower intensity to begin with. Some ideas include stable jogging, cycling or swimming before progressing to a faster pace. This can then be followed by a few sport-specific movements and activities, shoulder rolls, through simulation, or side-stepping and lunges for Rugby. Sport-specific warmups are often designed by a qualified trainer.