The Mother of All Muscles: Warming Up

By Jill Mitchell, Social Media Director

Ever since I was little, I heard from my gym coach, my softball coach and even my parents that my sister and I needed to make sure we warmed up and cooled down properly after we were done with whatever physical activity we were doing. It was something I heard, but not something I necessarily understood.

I’m sure I rolled my eyes when my mom and dad told me to make sure I stretched before and after taking the field. And I’m pretty sure I thought not only was I in good enough shape, but that I was also young enough that warming up or cooling down wasn’t something that really applied to me. Of course if it was something that my coach had me do, I didn’t think much about it and did what was asked of me.

Little did I realize that shockingly, my parents were right. Warming up is important for many reasons.

As the Mayo Clinic explains, “Warming up helps prepare your body for aerobic activity. A warm up gradually revs up your cardiovascular system by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles.”

Children’s Health Dallas explains why warming up is important for youth. “Children’s muscles and bones are different than adults. A young body is under constant stress from growth and development, which can lead to tight muscles, varying levels of mobility and flexibility, and potential injuries – all of which can be addressed with proper warm-up and cool-down routines.”

According to Josh Adams, Performance Manager EXOS at Children’s Health, static stretching isn’t enough for a warm up. It’s also necessary to do pillar (the region between the shoulders and the hips) stability and mobility exercises.

And don’t forget the cool down! Cooling down is thought to be important to flush out the lactic acid in your muscles, which helps to ease muscle fatigue. One way this can be done is by stretching the muscles used. The Mayo Clinic also recommends the following as a baseline for cooling down:

  • To cool down after a brisk walk, walk slowly for 5-10 minutes.

  • To cool down after a run, walk briskly for 5-10 minutes.

  • To cool down after swimming, swim laps leisurely for 5-10 minutes.

Even though it can be tempting to skip a warm-up or a cool down, don’t! After all, you’ve already made a commitment to your work-out and training, so invest in your body and what it needs to stay healthy before and afterwards, too!

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