by Kieron Kerr, Registered Osteopath
One of the first questions I ask patients when I begin to assess an injury or discuss their exercise programme is whether they warm up or cool down or both.
The stock answer is “ooh a little bit of stretching here and there!” Which at least is something! But if we began to understand the significance of both warming up and cooling down we can go along way to reducing the likelihood of injury.
The founder of osteopathy Andrew Taylor Still had several tenets of Osteopathy which he has become famous for and are oft quoted. Perhaps the most salient in this topic is ‘the rule of the artery is supreme’. Simply meaning if there are no obstructions to the artery reaching its designated part of the body then there is less chance of dysfunction. This is highly appropriate in muscle function as without the nutrients and fluid that blood brings to a muscle it can become laboured and prone to tearing.
The warm up before activity whether it is running, gardening or playing golf is crucial. Always try to mimic the motions and movement patterns that you will be performing but at a much lesser pace. Think about the muscles you will be using and the postures you will be adopting and ensure that blood flow is getting to this area by gently mobilising each area.
If you spend a good ten minutes warming up then you will be in good form to go about your activity. The benefits and importance of warming up can be illustrated by the Great Britain rowing four in the Olympic final who warmed up by rowing 10,000 metres the morning of the final. This is 5 times the length of the actual race!
Once your activity has finished, it is important to allow muscles that have been active to gently glide into rest by slowing down your movements and gently mobilise each joint or muscle by gently stretching it out. This will help to prevent stiffening of muscles and joints as it allows the body to adjust to the change in velocity of movement.
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