Warm Up, Warm Down – What Is It?

Many people are aware of the importance of a warm-up prior to exercising or physical activity, but not many people exhibit the warm-down. A warm-up could be walking, jogging, static or dynamic stretching, or anything else that gets the muscles ready to be used for their activity. A warm-down is just the opposite. It prepares the muscles for rest and helps them avoid any post-soreness or pain.

What Can I Do to Warm Up?

  • Walk: Walk a half-mile, focusing on keeping pace and allowing arms to swing, hips to rotate, and legs to move evenly. You can progress to a light jog if you are preparing for a run.
  • Stretch: Static or dynamic stretching can be beneficial in loosening the muscles and preparing them for activity. Static stretching is where you stay in place and only move at the joint of the muscle being stretched. This is a better warm-up for lower-level activities such as brisk walking. Dynamic stretching puts the muscle on stretch during movement and can be more beneficial for sports and higher-level activities.
  • Plyometrics: Plyometric exercises involve speed, force, and agility. They can be sprints, cutting movements, or jumping activities. Plyometrics is an excellent way to prepare for a higher-level sports-related activity.

What is the Significance of a Warm Down?

A warm-down prevents post-workout/activity soreness, pain, and tightness. Running 10 miles and then just getting in your car to drive home will most likely leave you with tight muscles, if not pain in your legs. You can avoid that with a warm-down!

What Can I Do to Warm Down?

  • Jog/Walk: Transitioning from running to a light jog/walk is a good way to allow the body to slow down. It will enable your heart rate to decrease and muscles to ease.
  • Stretch: Static or dynamic stretching of your muscles can prevent post-soreness from occurring and prevent them from tightening in upcoming days.
  • Yoga: A quick, 15-minute yoga session to maintain mobility and ease muscle tightness can also be a good warm-down exercise.

All in all, it is essential to make time for a warm-up and warm-down before and after any activity or sport. It helps prevent injuries, keeps muscles at their optimal flexibility, and aids in recovery.

About the Author: Jamie Clausen, DPT

Originally from San Jose, California, Jamie graduated from Archbishop Mitty High School, where she played one year of soccer before eventually needing three ankle surgeries. This experience is what kickstarted her love and passion for physical therapy. She graduated from Samuel Merritt University with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2012. Aside from her passion for physical therapy, Jamie has a special love of baking. Anything from cakes to cookies to pies, she is up for a challenge and is always trying new recipes. Jamie also loves the outdoors – beach, hiking in the redwoods, spending time with her husband and son, and cheering for all the local teams – Sharks, Warriors, and Earthquakes. Jamie has primarily worked in an outpatient orthopedic setting, serving a diverse population of patients – post-op, gait/balance deficits, weekend warriors, and general orthopedic pain/limitation. She uses a combination of manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and education to work with each patient to achieve their goals. To further benefit her patients, Jamie is trained in myofascial decompression, kinesiotaping, and BFR, which she can incorporate into her treatments.

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