People, including myself, don’t want to do a warmup before training. I only have a set amount of time and I want to spend that time lifting, not doing self-myofascial release (foam rolling), stretching, mobility and muscle activation.
The truth is, a good warm-up is necessary for safety and it improves your performance.
What is a warm-up?
When most people hear warm up, they think, hop on the treadmill for 5 minutes, get the heart rate up and I’ll be good to go. Unfortunately, it takes about 3 minutes for your body to realize what is going on. In our experience, this is especially true for runners. Once your body does realize what’s going on, the body will work to conserve energy as quickly as possible.
While hopping on the treadmill is better than nothing, without an educated warm up, you will be more susceptible to strained muscles, cramps and injury. At the end of the day, if you want your training to be sustainable, a good, well rounded warm up will help you head in the right direction as it relates to the results you want.
There is no perfect warm up, but ideally, we want to movements that will mimic the movements we are about to perform in your training session.
What should my warm-up look like?
The warm-up, for us, is the preparation phase for the workout to come. Through research and practical experience, we’ve determined that best results are typically seen when an exercise prep routine incorporates 3 key components:
Foam rolling or Self-myofascial release for Tissue Quality
Stretching and Corrective Exercises to fix imbalances and restrictions
Mobility & Activation to prime the muscles and nervous system for training
Almost all chronic joint pain or overuse injuries are not at created at the actual pain site. Joint pain and overuse injuries are generally caused by tightness and restrictions in the muscles above and/or below the joint in question. What we must do is, find the source to alleviate the pain.
Of course, there are exceptions, but pain at the back of the knee is usually caused by tightness in the calves which could be coming from the feet. Pain at the front and inside of the knee is caused tight quadriceps and adductor muscles. Pain on the outside of the knee is caused, NOT by a tight IT band, but a tight TFL muscle. Shoulder pain is often caused by restrictions in your serratus anterior, thoracic spine (T-Spine), chest and lats.
Tissue quality describes the general health of your muscles and the interconnected web of fascia that surrounds them all. Anytime we exercise, we break muscle down and even when we don’t exercise, we sit most of the day creating holding patters in our muscles that can create scar tissue and compensations that restrict the flexibility of a muscle. Therefore, the range of motion of the joint above and/or below that muscle is restricted and consequently the mobility or control of that joint is compromised.
One way that we address this is to self-massage or foam roll sore, tight, and restricted muscle groups of the body to regenerate tissue both pre and post-workout to promote injury reduction and allow for a smoother, hopefully pain free workout. When we foam roll, we not only breaking down some of this scar tissue, but we put the body in a parasympathetic state (rest and digest) that allows the muscle to relax and give us the opportunity to create a better, more anatomically correct movement pattern.
In addition, for best results, if we do a brief stretch of the muscle we just foam rolled, we can increase the range of motion (flexibility) and if we perform a movement using that muscle group after that we break the old holding pattern all the while reducing the risk of injury. This happens because we are moving the joint or joint under control without restrictions.
Massage is one of those counter-intuitive things whereby we are actively searching for pain. This is the only time we want to cause ourselves pain during training.
We all have issues with our bodies that cause problems. Some of us have asymmetries due to muscular function and some of us have issues because we have structural asymmetries. Muscular functionality issues tend to happen because of our daily habits of sitting with our legs crossed, leaning to one side when we stand or holding a baby on one side only. These issues do not generally happen because of the 50 minutes you spent in the gym today. These asymmetries are, most of the time, something that can be corrected.
Conversely, structural asymmetries are something not in our control. This can be issue created by trauma, coming out of the womb sideways or other “deformities”. These structural issues can cause muscular asymmetries that create compensations elsewhere. This is a little more difficult to navigate, but we can still find ways to create better movement patterns, even if only temporarily for that session.
Mobility & Activation
More than your basic treadmill warm-up, a mobility and activation circuit will prepare your body for a maximum performance workout.
Grey Cook best describes how the body works in this simple statement. “The body is an alternating pattern of stable and mobile joints”. The foot is stable, the ankle is mobile, the knee is stable, the hip is mobile, the lumbar spine is stable, and thoracic spine is mobile, the shoulder blades are stable, the shoulder is mobile, the elbow is stable, the wrist is mobile and the hand is stable. Our goal in our warmup is to activate the muscles that move the stable joints and mobilize the mobile joints to create full range of motion that prepares the body for the movements in the session to come and as a natural byproduct we reduce the risk of injury.
That’s why we have our 3 varieties of warm up here at PAC. We have 24 different movements that mobilize and activate every major muscle group and joint in the body ranging from basic to advanced movements. Check out these videos to see what our warm-ups look like and let us know how it works for you.
Warm up A
Warm up B
Warm up C
More Than Just a Warm-Up…
As you can see, the warm-ups we recommend are not just idol movements with no purpose. We want to reduce your risk of injury and give you the best chance of a healthy body with longevity for training for years to come.