When the weather gets cold the body gets tight. How you warm up and cool down will make a difference in your cold weather experience. The good news is that when it comes to cold weather exercise, activity is the best warm- up of all whether its a bike, run, swim, or any kind of workout.
Starting off Slow
To warm up on a bike, for example, get on the bike and go slow with intention. The warm-up allows you to set your mind to the task and implement corrections to your biomechanics. Factor in 7 to 15 minutes of warm-up at the beginning of your workouts for best results. The stiffer you feel the longer you should warm up.
Stretching comes into play on the warm-up if you have a body part that needs special attention. Stretch and loosen problematic areas before you start your warm- up. This is one of the best ways to heal acute and chronic injuries. Although the area may feel tight and unmovable, with consistent attention and time it will improve.
As important as the warm-up is so is the cool down. Cooling down will balance the positive and negative effects of training. For an athlete the most comfortable time to stretch is after activity, when you are warm because warmth makes it easier.
Areas of Tension
After completing an activity stretch the prime movers and release any sites of tension. With cycling, prime movers to be stretched are the quads, inner legs, and hips. Areas of tension to release are the neck and shoulders.
Swimming and Running
When swimming the prime movers are the back and shoulders. Areas to release are the feet and calves. After finishing a run access the prime movers at the hips and thighs. Next, release the lower back, knees and feet. Factor in 15 to 25 minutes of specific cool down 3 times a week as a minimum. The ultimate cold weather cool down favored by Paula Newby Fraser consists of a hot bath for at least 20 minutes, then warm clothes and a slow, easy, stretch.
Whether warming up or cooling down have a plan. Notice how your body feels and what your body needs. Sports are varied and there is no exact approach. Tune in to what happens before and after the work out, and race and train forever.
Kinesiologist Brian Dorfman's proven techniques help hundreds of athletes each year. To order a Flexibility Training DVD or to ask a question go to www.briandorfman.com. Or call toll-free (886)787-3348.