Are You Warming Up Right?
A common question we get in clinic is what to do before warming up and more importantly what not to do. Sometimes people can be doing a warm up that will last as long as their actual workout because it contains a number of different elements to it. These might be an aerobic phase, self-myofascial release, mobility drills, activation drills and movement patterning. Then by the time they workout you are tired and fatigued.
But something that is always important and to always be thought of before warming up on your workout days is some days you will need certain exercises and some days others, depending if you wake up stiff or if you are feeling good.
Any exercise that does not directly contribute to making your workout better is not worth doing. An overly extensive warm up can actually decrease your effectiveness to workout causing some central fatigue.
Central fatigue is not to do with how you are feeling on a certain day, but rather the weakening of your central nervous system to send signals to your muscles.
For example a 20 minute cycle before you start deadlifting is not the most effective way to prepare your body for this but rather will cause you to be tired and also not have prepared the right areas in order to perform.
A good start in general is some mobility work for certain areas that are weak. A common area is the Thoracic spine and below are 2 links for exercises to prepare your Thoracic spine for working out.
Cat Camel: Aim for 15-20 slow and controlled reps making sure you are getting the movement through your upper back.
Reachbacks: Aim for 1-2 sets of 10 reps on each side depending on how you are feeling on the day of your workout.
Then as well as this you can do some assistance exercises before you workout for example a patient pull down or dumbbell row prior to deadlifting will help set the correct muscles for when you start the exercise.
Overall, having an intense stretching and mobility work can actually increase the risk of injuries when done before lifting. This is because you can create changes that can reduce the force you can create in your lift and therefore making it less able to resist force from an external load such as a barbell. So the risk of injury increases.