The purpose of the warm-up is to prepare the body and ease it into a state of more intense exercise. It’s important to warm-up for a few reasons. Firstly, an aerobic warm-up prior to exercise increases the body’s core temperature that increases the extension of the muscle and tendon fibers. This means that they can be stretched more without breaking. The cliché muscles-are-like-a-rubber-band analogy actually works in this case. Tug on a frozen rubber band and it will break more easily than a warm rubber band. So warming-up increases temperature of the muscles and reduces the risk of injury from overstretched muscle fibers.
Secondly, the warm-up also helps to prevent muscle soreness that occurs the day following exercise.
Cycling is a good choice of warm up activity because it only stresses the concentric phase of muscle contraction (the part of a movement where the muscle fibers shorten together).
This causes less muscle damage compared to jogging which has an eccentric component where the muscle is lengthening when the leg touches the ground and the body weight sinks over the leg. That’s not to say jogging is a bad warm-up, it certainly does the job well to increase body temperature, just with a little extra force that increases the stress on the muscles.
In conclusion, always do a brief, 5-10 minute warm-up prior to exercise in order to prevent injury, and prevent muscle soreness.
If you have questions about your exercise program or need help planning the right warm up, give us a call at 303 666 4151 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org - we'd be happy to help!
Here's to being injury-free!
Alex Glades PT, DPT