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Warm-ups & Cool Downs

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I cannot stress the importance of good warm-ups and cool downs.  Both are necessary when you are doing intense workouts as warm-ups ease your body into your workout.  They help warm up your muscles so they are ready for intensity.  You should not skip this part because when you just jump into an intense workout, whether it be my HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sessions, running, hiking, weightlifting sessions, etc.  Your muscles are cold and stiff and the warm-up helps bring blood flow to those areas.

When you don't warm-up, you have a great chance of injuring yourself and makes your workout less effective.

I learned the hard way about cool downs.  Often I did do warm-ups, but for quite some time, I had very little cool down just because I didn't have time.  So you go from intense exercise to nothing, which isn't good.  The body needs some time to calm down, especially when you've been doing something that gets your heart rate up.  You want to ease your heart rate back down and often when we're doing those intense exercises, as you cool down your muscles have really been working and contracted.  So while the blood flow is still going strong, be gentle and as the heart rate comes down, lengthen those contracted muscles through active gradual stretching.

So, when your body is cooled down, instead of the muscles being super contracted, and you've gently helped lengthen those muscles, the muscles will in a neutral state be nice and lengthened rather than tight and contracted.

Over time, if we do not keep our muscles lengthened, they keep getting more and more contracted and around each joint are muscles, tendons, ligaments.  Over time, as the muscles get shorter through those contracted muscles, subluxations begin to form.  Subluxations are misalignments in the body.  When you have subluxations, the nerves that run through the joints now can become pinched, resulting in pain.  This will also change your posture.  Ever noticed a hunched back person?  That's years of contracted muscles that they did not take care to lengthen those muscles.

Subluxations can result in a number of various awful health issues, and it also greatly reduces our range of motion.  I truly believe that arthritis for most people is preventable, if they just take care to do proper cool downs after workouts.  But, this is developed through years of mistreatment.

Most things we do cause our muscles to contract, so we need to make conscious efforts to lengthen our muscles.  As I sit all day long at a computer, even if my workout is just with my fingers, I need to take care daily to not only do proper workouts with good warm-ups and cool downs, I also need to take breaks to do things to length my muscles.

Anyway, Fitness Blender has a host of free warm-up and cool down workouts for the whole body that can avail most people.  They are awesome.

Here is their playlist from You Tube:

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