Be sure to warm up before exerciseThose who enjoy winter sports should be aware that warming up is very important for their physical safety.
This is because when a person begins exercising, their joints and muscles begin to take enormous pressure. Ligaments, tendons and muscles react to explosive impacts, and blood vessels need to endure quickly rising pressure as the heart pumps more strongly. Sports-related injuries often occur in winter because joints and blood vessels cannot cope with the pressure. No matter how busy someone is, warming up is not to be skipped. For this article, Professor Yang Yun-jun at the Sports Medical Center of Inje University Ilsan Paik Hospital gave advice, and additional information was taken from the book “Muscle” by Ian King and Lou Schuler.
Going out to exercise and ending up in an emergency room, unfortunately, occurs frequently in winter. When the symptoms are mild, the problem could be a joint injury, but when they are serious, it could be a heart attack or cerebral hemorrhage. All can be caused by insufficient warm-up.
The purpose of warming up is to circulate an increasing amount of blood to every part of the body. As the body temperature rises, muscles, ligaments and tendons become more flexible and the body becomes more limber. Nutrition and oxygen supplies to muscles become more effective, which leads to more physical power.
Warming up makes blood vessels more elastic. The pulse increases and the heart’s ability to contract improves, meaning less likelihood of heart failure. Warming up also decreases the symptoms of angina (angina, or angina pectoris, is recurring acute chest pain or discomfort resulting from decreased blood supply to the heart). After warming up, angina pectoris patients did not show any signs of the problems in an electrocardiogram.
Some people substitute stretching for a warm-up. However, stretching is just an action that extends tendons, ligaments and muscles. Thus, warming up should precede stretching.
Not all exercises function in the same way. There are exercises that improve cardiovascular functions, such as jogging and hiking, while weight lifting helps increase muscle. Warming up should be different depending on the type of exercise planned.
One way is to warm up the entire body. Exercises like walking, hiking, jogging, swimming and aerobics need strong blood circulation, and warming up the whole body is necessary to raise the heart rate slowly. For angina pectoris patients without symptoms, this type of warm up is essential and can prevent sudden cardiac arrest. Walking or cycling for 10 to 15 minutes raises the body temperature to 38 or 39 degrees Celsius, making blood vessels more flexible.
Another way is to warm up a particular part of the body. This is suitable for weight lifting, which uses specific muscle groups. Such warm-ups could include swinging a bat a few times before going into a batter’s box, or lifting a smaller weight before trying a heavy dumbbell. Raising the temperature of the respective body parts helps blood circulation, and tendons, ligaments and muscles become more flexible. It takes only five to 10 minutes to raise the temperature of certain muscles.
A cool-down is as important as a warm-up.
When someone does intense exercise, the heart quickly pumps blood into the arms and legs. Thus, when one stops exercising, there needs to be enough time for blood to return to the heart. If, after one finishes an exercise, the same movements are slowly repeated, blood can circulate back to the heart easily. This is the reason that when a marathoner finishes his race, he is covered with blankets and encouraged to walk for more than 500 meters (1,640 feet). Cool-downs usually take 5 to 10 minutes.
by Ko Jong-kwan