There are many people who exercise intensely, day after day, in hopes of transforming their bodies. There are many athletes who spend countless hours practicing with dreams of reaching the pinnacle of their sport. Though their intentions are noble, not everyone achieves success. The deciding factor between excellence and average is attention to detail. I wanted to write a blog series on improving your rate of success by focusing on the details that drastically effect your training and performance, but are often overlooked. The first topic I’m going to address is properly warming up and cooling down.
Warm-Up: It is very important to prepare your body for a hard training session. The goals for a proper warm up should be to improve postural alignment, increase core temperature, mobilize stiff joints, activate stabilizing muscles throughout the kinetic chain, and stimulate the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). Techniques that should be used to accomplish these goals are foam rolling, dynamic stretching, mobility drills, corrective exercises, and movements specific to your sport or activity. This preparation period will reduce the chance for injury and improve performance.
Cooldown: Cooling down properly is just as important as warming up. Spending time doing light exercise to bring your heartrate and core temperature down is critical. Doing so will allow for proper venous return of blood to the heart and lungs. During exercise, the heart pumps blood out to hard working muscles. Oxygen and nutrients are delivered to muscle tissue throughout the body. Then, blood picks up carbon dioxide and waste products that need to be eliminated. Muscular contractions are the pump mechanism that brings blood back to the heart and lungs. Exercising strenuously, then stopping immediately puts a huge strain on your cardiovascular system and your entire body!
Also, it is important to reset your central nervous system with deep breathing techniques. This will engage the parasympathic nervous system (rest and calm), bringing about relaxation and the reduction of stress hormones post training. Not taking time to properly reset your central nervous system from an intense bout of training will leave your sympathetic nervous system over stimulated, making it hard to calm down and disrupting sleep.
Stay tuned for the next installment coming soon! Remember, you get One Body, you get One Life, Care For It!