I painfully remember the first time I badly injured myself from failing to warm up. It was my first summer really hitting it hard at the gym. About two hours after an intense workout session (which I absolutely warmed up for), I headed to the ballpark for a first slow-pitch softball game.
I get there, put my cleats on, play catch for a bit…you know…because obviously, I’m going to warm up my throwing arm but not the rest of my body. I’m thinking, It’s cool, I just worked out a while ago, so I’m good to go. Wrong.
We start the game and shortly I’m up to bat. I make contact on the first pitch and go to a full out sprint to first base. The very first step I take, I feel a shooting pain in my quad. Cool. I’ve felt that before. Pulled quad. For the rest of the night, I jogged around the bases and stretched at any opportunity I could get. I pulled it pretty bad—I had to skip my workout at the gym the next two days, and I wasn’t completely better for about a week. You better believe I warm up before every game now.
Moral of the story, warmups are incredibly important to prevent injury. When you warm up, you get your blood pumping. And increased blood flow means increased muscle temperature, and increased oxygen release. Your muscles can contract and relax faster, which leads to better muscle efficiency. Many studies have found and proven the importance of warming up to prevent injury.
One study observed 44 healthy men sprint on a treadmill for 10 to 15 seconds without warming up. 70 percent of the men displayed abnormal electrocardiogram readings due to the low blood supply to the heart muscle. And the changes had nothing to do with fitness level. They then found that a simple two-minute warmup helped balance ECG readings when sprinting.
In addition to staying healthy and uninjured, some other benefits of warming up include:
- Increased performance: With warmer muscles comes with increased strength and speed because they can function better. Plus, your range of motion increases and your body releases additional hormones to provide more energy.
- Better mental preparation: Doing a warmup helps you get in the zone and ready for the workout by making you relaxed and keeping you positive.
- Increased flexibility: Warming up with just your body weight helps train your muscles to the movement that you’ll eventually perform with weights.
So how much time should you spend warming up before a workout? Suggestions vary, and really, it kind of depends on the type of exercise you’ll be doing, how long your actual workout will be, your soreness level, etc. But most professionals agree you probably should warm up for at least five minutes.
So get ready to hit it hard and remember all the benefits that come with warmups and the importance of preventing injury.
And last, if you ever injure yourself because you didn’t warm up before a workout, or you got injured from some other issue, take a break and give yourself time to heal. And try Max Rehab. Designed to reduce inflammation, speed recovery time, and increase soft tissue healing, Max Rehab can help you get back to your routine quicker.