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Warm-Ups: Why it’s important to stretch your muscles before a workout

Posted by | 05-03-2019

Hi, I'm Dr Scott Wilson, founder and chairman of Physiomed. If you're like me, you may be eager to hit the gym and get started on your workout. While it can be tempting to skip a warmup, especially if you're pressed for time, it's important to remember that preparing your body before exercise is essential. Not only does it have physical benefits, it also has psychological advantages too. That's why this month's focus is on how to get the most out of your warm up sessions. To give us tips on how to do just that. I have with me Dr Jason Lemieux of Physiomed Oakville.

Hi, I'm Dr Jason Lemieux from Physiomed Oakville. Whether you're heading to the gym or getting ready for a game, we can't overstate the importance of a proper warm up. Many of the injuries we see presented to the clinic are 100% preventable if we just get our body primed for the movements and the demands of the activities that we're going to engage it. So if you sit behind a computer for eight hours a day, going out at night to go to the gym or to start playing in a soccer match, our bodies obviously not been conditioned for that activity. So when we do a warmup, we want to make sure that we're priming our cardiovascular system, our muscular skeletal system, and our nervous system to give our body the best chance of getting through that activity without injury. When we look at a warmup, one of the most important parts is actually warming up.

So getting our heart rate up is going to help to improve blood flow and get ourselves more flexible. And easy way to do that is to jump on a bike. Or if we're not at the gym, you can simply travel with a jump rope. It can fit into any travel bag and just 90 seconds of skipping is going to help to elevate your heart rate, get your blood flowing and get that cardiovascular system and nervous system primed. Once we've warmed our body up, we want to try to get rid of any restrictions that might be there. The best way to know what areas of your body are most restricted is to get assessed by a healthcare professional. But if I'm sitting all day long and I now have tight hips and ankles, using a foam roller is going to help to break up some of those adhesions and you can get that done in as little as three to five minutes.

Now that I've warmed my body up and I've got rid of some of those restrictions, now we want to go through some dynamic movements that exaggerate the range of motion that's going to be demanded of me during my exercises or sport that I play. One great way to do that, if I could only do one dynamic motion before I worked out, it would be something called a spider lunge. Now a spider lunge has a lot of progressions to it. We're going to go through a couple right now. Very simply, in this case, I'm going to use an implement to put my hands on. If you're challenged with hip mobility, you'll have to use something to elevate your hands. As you become a little more flexible and improve your core strength, you'll be able to do this without any, added devices just from the ground.

So as I lunge my way down to the ground, I'm going to bring my hands on to the med ball. I'm now going to prime my core by stepping out one leg at a time, without disturbing the angle of my spine. And I'm going to stride forward bringing my knee down onto the cushion. Ideally, I want to feel like I've got a nice straight line from my knee all the way up my spine. The reason that we elevate hands for a lot of people, the beginning is if they put their hands on the ground, they're going to be forced to around their back, give up that core stability, and we don't want that. So ultimately as they open up their hips and become more flexible, we'll eventually be able to get all the way to the ground and maintain that good neutral spine. So now I'm opening up my hips. We already kind of primed our core getting into this position, I can now dynamically open up my upper back and work on shoulder mobility, and then from that position I can pick myself up, maintain the control of my spine as I work my way through to do the same thing on the other side. Two or three cycles of a spider lunge is only going to take about 90 seconds and now our bodies ready to go for the workout or whatever sport we're about to play.

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Dr. Scott Wilson

Dr. Scott Wilson is the Founder & Chairman of Physiomed; one of Canada’s largest franchised networks of inter-disciplinary healthcare clinics. A graduate of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Dr. Wilson founded Physiomed in 1994 and has since grown Physiomed to over 30 clinics in Southern Ontario and British Columbia. With hundreds of practitioners from over a dozen disciplines, Dr. Wilson and Physiomed have helped over 100,000 Canadians with physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, orthotic therapy, compression therapy and clinical conditioning as part of a program of rehabilitation and health optimization. In addition to helping patients improve their physical and mental well-being, Dr. Wilson has also mentored hundreds of practitioners to provide better care while enjoying more fulfilling careers. He is also a keynote speaker on many health related topics including how physiotherapy, chiropractic and health & wellness treatment can help with stress, weight loss, and unlocking the true potential within to achieve lasting physical well-being.

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