Whether you’re a gym bunny, a road warrior, or an athlete, looking after your muscles before and after you take part in any exercise is super important if you want to stay injury-free. But, there’s so much miss information out there on what exactly you should be doing to warm up and cool down. We spoke to the clever sausages at Deep Heat South Africa to get some tips on the easiest and most-efficient ways to warm up and cool down before breaking a sweat.
Before Exercise – Heating Things Up
A warm-up gradually revs up your cardiovascular system by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. Warming up may also help reduce muscle soreness after exercise and lessen your risk of injury during exercise.
Get moving: It’s important to complete a dynamic general warm-up to prepare your body for exercise. This stage of your warm-up should consist of light physical activity, like walking, jogging, easy swimming, stationary bike, skipping or easy aerobics. A correct general warm-up for the average person should take about five to ten minutes and result in a light sweat, but generally won’t leave you fatigued.
Stretch it out: Once your muscles are warm you can move on to static stretching. This stage of the warm-up focuses on short-hold static stretching of 3 – 5 seconds. Start by focusing on large muscle groups first, such as your hamstrings and then move on to movements more specific to your sport or activity. To cover all the important muscle groups this stretching portion of your warm-up should take about five to ten minutes. Be careful not to overstretch, as you risk a strain.
A little help from a friend: If you’re serious about your warm-up and want to ensure that you warm up as quickly and effectively as possible then applying a heating product, like Deep Heat Rub or Deep Heat Spray, can also help to increase blood flow, relax sore muscles and joints, and warm soft tissue, to become more flexible and stretch more easily. While most of us consider muscle rubs as a product to be used only when something is sore, muscle rubs can also be used before exercise to increase the efficacy of a dynamic warm-up as well as to treat strained areas before exercise.
After Exercise – Take a Chill Pill
Just because you’ve clocked your last kilometre or finished your final rep, doesn’t mean your workout is over. In fact, what you do after your workout is just as important as what you do during it. After any workout, your muscles are tired and start breaking down so the immediate few minutes after your workout are crucial to muscle and tissue repair, strength building, and overall recovery.
Catch your breath: A sudden stop in physical activity can cause your blood pressure to drop, resulting in dizziness and can even cause blood pooling in your legs. After a run, slow down your stride and walk for three to five minutes to get your breath and heart rate back to normal. If you’ve just completed a strength workout, finish your workout with some dynamic stretches such as walking lunges or yoga poses.
Stretch some more: after exercise, your muscles are warmed up so they’re more elastic and pliable. It’s the perfect time to reap the benefits of stretching. Long-hold stretching after exercise not only relaxes the tension from the workout but also helps to decrease next-day soreness in hamstrings, quads and calves. For a thorough cool down stretch session stretch each major muscle with four reps at 15 to 60 seconds each.
Your muscles take real strain during exercise and even if you haven’t injured yourself, inflammation can start to set in, especially after a strenuous sweat session. Using an ice rub, like Deep Freeze Cold Gel, after exercise can increase the efficacy of your cool-down and reduce the chance of next-day muscle soreness. Using a cooling muscle rub is great because it delivers an instant burst of cooling pain relief to inflamed or fatigued areas. Deep Freeze Cold Gel is a convenient alternative to an ice pack and contains menthol, so its a great way to relieve overworked and aching muscles fast.
Just add water:
Replenishing your body’s water supplies after an intense workout is crucial to helping decrease muscle soreness and increase strength and flexibility.
Want to know more? Visit the Deep Heat South Africa website for tips on staying injury-free and treating injury easily and effectively.
Want more fitness reads? Click through to our Fitness section for more great fitness news, reviews, and features.