Stretching (Emily Rose Perkins, Scroll Photography)

Warm-ups: how important are they?

Performing warm-ups before a workout may be more important than many think, according to VeryWell, a website that provides information on health and wellness topics.

“The temperature increases within muscles that are used during a warm-up routine,” according to VeryWell. “A warmed muscle both contracts more forcefully and relaxes more quickly. In this way, both speed and strength can  be enhanced.”

Warm-ups increase body temperature, improve muscle elasticity and allow blood vessels to dilate, which lessens stress on the heart, according to VeryWell.

“By activating the heat-dissipation mechanisms in the body (efficient sweating), an athlete can cool efficiently and help prevent overheating early in the event or race,” according to VeryWell.

Oxygen becomes more available to muscles through warm-ups, which increase endurance, according to VeryWell. Warm-ups also allow for better motion range in joints.

“Your body increases its production of various hormones responsible for regulating energy production,” according to VeryWell. “During warm-up, this balance of hormones makes more carbohydrates and fatty acids available for energy production.”

When warm-ups are done before a workout, focus improves and the mind clears, making it easier to concentrate on the athletic event, according to VeryWell.

“The benefit of warming up is injury prevention,” said Bert Bowen, a faculty member in the health, recreation and human performance department. “If your muscles are cold and tight, it could result in torn muscles or ligaments. This is especially important if your activity will be all-out or stressful in any other way.”

Bowen said performing a five-to ten-minute warm-up is a good rule of thumb, though the length of time and the intensity may depend on the workout activity, the temperature and the amount of recent physical activity.

“Warm-ups should use the same muscles as you will be using in the workout,” Bowen said. “If you are going to swim, do some slow sustained swimming. If you are going to run, do some easy jogging.”

Bowen said stretching should be done after the muscles are warm or as part of a cool-down.

“Cooling down is important because it brings your heart rate back down in a safe way,” Bowen said. “It can also help prevent sore muscles by working out some of the lactic acid.”

Camille Smith, a freshman studying in nursing, said people can easily overlook warm-ups.

“They don’t understand the importance,” Smith said.

Smith said simple warm-ups can include activities such as jumping-jacks, push-ups, stretches or yoga.

“Do at least a run to help get your blood flowing,” said Heather Warren, a freshman majoring in general studies. “And stretch a lot.”

Warren said warm-ups are important because she has seen people tear their ACL and receive other injuries while doing physical activities.

“Keep in mind that the perfect warm up is a very individual process that can only come with practice, experimentation and experience,” according to VeryWell.  “Try warming up in various way at various intensities until you find what works best for you.”

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