Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The benefits of warming up and cooling down

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The benefits of warming up and cooling down


Warming up


The warm up literally warms up the body, to prepare it for whatever physical activity forth coming. Gently raising the pulse, which is usually carried out at the start of a warm up, you are beginning to increase your cardiac output and rate of ventilation. Making sure that enough blood is being distributed to the working muscles. Also to increase the amount of oxygen being delivered to the muscle cells, helping to reduce the oxygen debt when starting the actual activity.


A warm up is basically to


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· Gradually increase heart rate


· Raise core and muscle temperature


· Speed up energy production in the muscles


· Increase blood flow to and within the muscles


· Reduce muscle soreness and risk of injury


· Assist in focusing on the task at hand (psychological)


There are three phases to a warm up.


1. Continuous whole body activity i.e. jogging, rowing, swimming


. Stretch, paying special attention to joints and muscles that will be most active


. Skill practises suitable for activity/specific drills


A warm up also reduces the risk of injury.


Cooling down


· A cool down reduces your overall recovery time.


· Prevents blood pooling. Not cooling down may cause a drop in blood pressure, making the athlete feel dizzy and light headed


· Allows the muscles to return to their normal temperature slowly because a sudden drop in temperature could cause muscle damage


· Good time to perform flexibility exercises, as muscles are still warm etc.


· Allows you to physically and mentally relax


· Aids recovery and helps to prevent muscle soreness and injury


· Helps body to get rid of waste products that have built up in the muscles


Active/static stretching


Can be achieved actively by the athlete moving into a position that takes the joint beyond its point of resistance, lengthening the soft tissue around the joint. Position needs to be held for a minimum of ten seconds.


Passive/assisted stretching


A partner is used to move the joint beyond its resistance point and holds the position. May be held for longer. Partner must be trained/supervised.


Ballistic/dynamic stretching


Exercises involve swinging or bouncing movements. Should be undertaken only by athletes who are very flexible. If not performed correctly can cause injury.


PNF/Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation


Athlete moves the joint to just beyond its resistance point, and then performs an isometric contraction (use of partner for resistance). Muscle is relaxed and stretched again.





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