FEATURE — An injury can be a frustrating part of your journey to be more physically fit. The best way to prevent injury is to properly warm up.
Warming up introduces your body to the stress caused by exercise. The warm up is just as important as the workout itself.
Acefitness.org shares a great analogy: “It’s preparation – kind of like chopping vegetables before cooking. The way you prepare your veggies changes the meal. And cooking them can be more challenging if you skip chopping or do it poorly.”
Imagine a whole carrot in your beef stew! Warming up before exercise is like chopping the carrots before adding them to the stew.
Acefitness.org also tells us that a warm up does the following for the body in terms of injury prevention:
- Helps joints move more freely.
- Warms up muscles, tendons, and ligaments so they move more easily.
- Gets your blood flowing so muscles can produce more energy for the workout.
- Stimulates nerve and muscle function to help you move more efficiently.
People often skip the warm up because they are short on time. However, jumping right into exercise without warming up may cause your body to feel fatigued more quickly.
Dynamic stretching is best done before exercise. It consists of controlled leg and arm movements that take you (gently) to the limits of your range of motion. In dynamic stretches, there are no bounces or “jerky” movements. An example of dynamic stretching would be slow, controlled leg swings, arm swings, or torso twists.
What about stretching after exercise?
That’s important, too! The best kind of stretching to do after physical activity is static stretching. Static stretching consists of pushing the joint to its furthest point and then maintaining or holding that position.
Another area to work on to help prevent injury is balance. Good balance helps you perform movements correctly, and helps prevent falling during exercise. To improve your balance, you need to work on maintaining your posture and stability. Have you heard of Tree Pose or Half Moon Pose? Yoga moves like these are a great way to improve balance. Click here to learn a few basic yoga moves to get you started.
Even if you’ve done your stretching and balance exercises, there may be a time you find yourself with an injury. Consult with your Doctor before you’re ready to exercise again. Keep a positive attitude. You may fear losing any momentum you’ve gained with your physical activity routine, but proper rest to heal an injury will help prevent future setbacks. When you’re ready, get back at it!
Fueling your body with proper nutrition is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. For a chocolate smoothie recipe to try after an exercise routine, click here.
Written by CANDI MERRITT, Certified Nutrition Education Ambassador.
This article originally appeared Nov. 29, 2021, on the USU Extension Create Better Health blog.
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