Today we are discussing a very important topic that too many people pay little or no attention to. Continuing on in our book, Ready to Run, by Dr. Kelly Starrett, here is out next standard:
Standard #8: Warming Up and Cooling Down
We all have busy schedules. We all dedicate a very specific, small amount of time to get our workout into that busy schedule. You know what takes even more time? Scheduling doctor or PT visits over and over because you’re constantly injured. You need to make time for warming up and cooling down. Athletes that run often ignore their warmup.
Recommended warm-up: Air squats and/or jumping rope. These both allow you to properly warm up your joints and tissues. Use your cool-down time to work on your mobility weaknesses (Couch stretch, hip capsule rotation, spending time in a deep squat).
Also to keep in mind: How well are you hydrating throughout the day? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you sitting as little as possible? When you do sit, are you working in short spurts of mobility work to counter the effects?
If you put your energy into a hard training effort but do little beforehand and nothing afterward to maximize the benefits, then you aren’t netting a full return on your hard-fought investment. More importantly, you are opening yourself up to a plethora of potential injuries. Dr. Starrett uses two great examples to show us how warm-up and cool-down play a role in other activities as well: ” Does the driver of a Formula 1 race car just buckle up and smash the pedal to the floor? Does the winning jockey in the Kentucky Derby cross the finish line with his horse and then hop right out of the saddle? Of course not. With the Ferrari F14 T, the driver uses an external heater to warm up the engine before he even thinks of hitting the ignition”. Cooling down a horse? This is what Trainer Magazine has to say:
“The aim of a cool-down period is a progressive reduction in exercise intensity allowing a gradual redistribution of blood flow, enhanced lactic acid removal from the muscles, and a reduction of body heat through convection and evaporation. IF a horse inadequately cooled after competing, any residual lactate in the system will affect performance if the horse is required to compete again within a short space of time. The application of cold water will result in heat loss by conduction from the skin to the water, thus reducing body temperature. The active cool-down will also result in an effective return to normal breathing and heart rate”.
Final Thoughts: Your warmup and cool-down need to increase when your workout involves greater intensity. The inverse relationship between the time you spend warming up and the duration of a race or other competition is a key principle to embrace: The shorter the event, the more speed and power required, the more warmup. The amount of warmup you’re going to require before a flat road marathon is a very different amount you might need before a 3-mile cross-country race on rolling hills.