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Warm Up to Work Out!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Are we pushing their bodies harder than usual as part of New Year resolutions to get fit?

John O'Connell, director of SuperFastFitness, is one of Ireland's leading fitness experts. Having extensive experience working as a personal trainer in a wide variety of gyms in Ireland and abroad, John has trained thousands of members and has also developed many advanced training programmes for the fitness staff.

John has featured on television including RTE's fashion programme 'Off The Rails' and has worked as a health and fitness consultant for SPAR, the world's largest retail chain. John has an impressive client list which boasts a number of celebrities and professional organizations including the Garda Siochana Training College in Templemore, Ireland and the NewZealand All Blacks.

As well as working with the NZRFU he has also been involved with many other professional sporting teams including the Leinster Senior Rugby Team, the Dublin Senior Football Team, Queensland Reds Rugby Team, Murphy and Gunn/Newlyn (a Continental Irish Cycling Team) and the Australian Cycling Team, FRF Couriers.

Why should we warm up?
As the name implies, warming up raises body temperature. This temperature elevation reduces the potential of muscle and connective tissue injuries. In addition, blood flow to the muscles aids in the delivery of fuels required for muscle performance.
Simple stretching exercises reduce muscle tightness which limits mechanical efficiency and muscle power. Earlier onset of sweating promotes evaporative heat loss and as a result decreases the amount of heat stored by the body. This helps prevent body temperature from rising to dangerously high levels during more strenuous exercise. Warming up properly also prepares the cardiovascular and muscular systems for the upcoming physical activity and provides a transition from rest to strenuous exercise.
Stretching as part of a sensible warm up will allow the body to more safely perform many motions to their fullest extent with less chance of injuries from over extending. The problem that many of us have when we exercise is that we allow our body to go beyond its normal limits. This is often when injuries take place. By sensibly stretching our muscles before we exercise, we allow the body to perform beyond those normal limits.
So before we start our chosen sport or exercise regime we can carry out these simple warm up exercises which should help prevent injury to our bodies.
Problems people face:

. Poor postures from sitting all day can lead to injuries without effective postural re-education preparation exercises.
. Stretching is normally done incorrectly pre training and therefore benefits are non existent
. People think an effective warm up is just increasing your heart rate gradually - it should be much more than this
. Most people can't even master their own body weight and yet they use exercise machines which force their joints into unnatural positions

What an effective warm up should include:

. Loosen out & Stretch your tight muscles using massage with a foam roller and /or tennis ball & stretches- everyone is different but the most common problem areas are hips, and shoulders.
. Move your joints repetitively through a full range of movement ROM.
. Strengthen up weak areas in the body
. Prepare the body for what is ahead eg If using a weight machine you should do 1-2 light sets first before your 1st working set.
. A warm up should not only prepare someone for the training session ahead, it should also aim to increase their mobility & flexibility long term.


. Prevent injury
. Increase mobility & flexibility
. Eliminate chronic pain
. Correct poor posture
. Increase effectiveness of your training session & improve results
Two models, one male and one female, will be demonstrating the following exercises.
Warm up 1: Tennis Ball - massage hips & lower back -
The tennis ball massage will consist of placing the tennis ball at the hip and leaning against a wall or the ground to massage the hips.

Warm up 2: Stretch - Hip flexor stretch with levels for different abilities
Place your left knee on the floor, you may need a mat
or a cushion if it hurts your knee. Keeping your torso
upright lunge fwd so that your right leg takes most of
your weight and you feel a stretch at the top of your
left thigh. Pause and return to start. Repeat both
Advance: Straighten your left arm above your head to increase the stretch. You can
also turn your torso slightly over to the right and this will lengthen you more.

Warm up 3: Shoulder Mobility exercise to loosen out neck and shoulders
Hold a towel shoulder width apart with your arms hanging down. Bring your arms
up above your head keeping them straight so you get a slight stretch at the top
of the movement. Lift your chest and keep your bum tight. Return to starting

Warm up 4: Hamstring mobility exercise for lower back and hips
Stand beside a wall and use it for balance. Swing your leg
up in front feeling a stretch in your hamstring. Be
cautious with this and make sure you start slowly to find
your ROM. Gradually increase your ROM as you progress
through reps. Slow down your leg and stop when your
knee is under your hip. Change sides after 10 and repeat
Advance: Increase ROM

Warm up 5: Plank with difficulty variations to strengthen abs & lower back
Lie on the floor and first lift your stomach off the floor. Your back will
remain straight if you are doing it right. Rotate onto your left arm
keeping your legs out wide for balance. Maintain a straight and strong
posture. Perform 5 on each side. If this is too difficult try to hold the
start position for as long as possible. If it hurts your back stop!
Advance: Bring your knees off the floor from the start again you must
keep a flat back to avoid injury. Keep your abs tight, tense them as if you
were about to be punched in the stomach. Rotate onto your left arm
while keeping your feet together.

Warm Down

Slow down and continue movement at a slow pace to allow the body to return to homeostasis (normal functioning) more easily.

Stretch muscles using longer stretches and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) - This is bringing a muscle into a stretch and then gently contracting the muscle. When it relaxes you get a bigger increase in the stretch & develop more flexibility.