When we recreate or exercise, we often go from being relatively stationary (sitting in the car on the way to the trailhead, getting out of bed in the morning, getting up from our desk at the end of the day) to being very active. This significant transition in the demands required from our body can be pretty jarring. Spending 10 minutes on a mindful warm-up helps prime our body to transition from a stationary state to an active one.
We all know that competitive athletes (youth through elite) spend time warming up. However, as active adults and weekend warriors, we think we can roll out of bed in the morning, swig some coffee and water, and hit the pavement for our morning run. Sound familiar? I know, me too!
However, this lack of warm-up can be problematic and counterproductive to the fitness benefits we are hoping to accomplish. You may have experienced feelings of stiffness or discomfort in the first 10 minutes of your workout, the first mile of your run, or the first run down the mountain. When we jump right into an activity with stiff joints, "cold" connective tissues, and a less than optimally activated nervous system, we can set ourselves up for injury. Often our bodies do not feel appropriately opened up and ready for the activity ahead as we fail to spend time having our warm-up LOOK LIKE the activity itself.
Spending 10 minutes moving slowly and mindfully before jumping into the activity can hugely impact how our bodies feel during the activity. This prep time allows our body to adjust to the broader ranges of motion and quicker movement demands. The warm-up also stimulates our nervous system to fire more quickly and triggers our circulatory system to ramp up to the higher activity loads. A mindful warm-up is an essential step in protecting our body against movement-related dysfunction (potential injury). And the best part, an appropriate warm-up also improves our overall performance.
A cherished mentor of mine and well know mobility guru Dr. Kelly Starrett summarizes the benefits of a 10-minute warm-up here: "There is a lot of complex physiology that can get spun up in the 10-minute gap between stillness and that first step. You'll be giving your body a chance to shift blood from your digestive system to your legs and lungs. You'll allow your venous system to return the extra blood that's been pooling in your legs' veins to get put into circulation. Your connective tissues will start to perfuse with increased blood flow, and you'll start to switch on your metabolic machinery. It's a no-brainer. Your body is an extraordinary machine that is designed to run. Give that thing a chance to work in your favor."
Need help warming up for your specific body or activity needs? Reach out; we are here to help!
As always, motion is lotion,