Warming up and stretching: Why it should be a part of every exercise or activity

sitting stretch

Have you ever pulled a muscle, or tweaked something at the gym, in the field, or on the court? Does it seem as though you are losing your range of motion? If your answer is yes, then you are more than likely not warming up and stretching, not warming up and stretching affectively, or haven’t adopted an appropriate warm up and cool down routine for your activity. It is a common occurrence, because many people are ill advised as to the behavior of their muscular tissue, its limitations, and factors that help or hinder preparing the muscle for exertion and recovery.

Why is warming up before a workout so important?

Warming up your muscles is a very important part of preparing the body for an activity that involves exertion, be it aerobic or anaerobic. Before an activity, and before stretching, it is imperative to warm up the body first. Warming up the body delivers more oxygen, and increases the temperature of the body and muscles, which in turn allows the collagen fibers to become more pliable. Warming up and stretching sets in muscle pliability, and prepares it for movement. Pliability of the muscle during activity is very important, because, just like any other material, too brittle or too stiff when put under pressure, will break or snap.

Please note that you should also ensure you are properly hydrated and have a sufficient amount of energy reserve to perform the activities you have planned. Proper hydration can help joint movement, regulate body temperature, help circulate nutrients, and it also aids in cellular repair. Without proper hydration, you could experience cramping, nausea, and you will tire more quickly. Continue reading “Warming up and stretching: Why it should be a part of every exercise or activity”

Proper Form: Why it’s so important, what is proper form, and how it works

This post discusses the importance of proper form. I will cover what proper form is, the benefits of using proper form, as well as what could occur if you do not use it. And finally, I discuss some tips on how to maintain proper form in exercise and in your daily life.

Have you ever tweaked a muscle while working out, or wondered if your doing an exercise correctly? I’ve had these experiences a long time ago, when I started working out for the first time at age 14. Fortunately, I had experienced people around me to help correct what I was doing wrong. After 21 years of hitting the weights, cross training, running, cycling, kayaking, Yoga, Tai Chi, various other activities, and reading numerous books on athletic performance, I developed a good understanding of Kinesiology (the study of the mechanics of body movement).

On recent trips to the gym, I have seen people lifting too much weight. This sacrifices their form, in some misguided attempt at trying to get results fast, trying to look cool, or perhaps they simply didn’t know any better. Regardless, they were not going to achieve any of their intended objectives. Most recently, I witnessed what appeared to be a father teaching his teenage son how to lift weights. When they exercised together, they were both performing the movements so horribly incorrect, it made me cringe. I was tempted to walk over there and give them some pointers, but since the dad was doing the dad thing, I didn’t want to be that guy. After seeing so much of this, I decided to write this clarification, in hope that it will help people work out with better form, and achieve their desired physique more efficiently.

What is meant by proper form?

Proper form is a specific way of performing a movement, often a strength training exercise, to avoid injury, prevent cheating and increase strength. With a simple description of how to stand properly, one may glean the purpose of proper form. From a standing position (arms down), proper form is when you have vertical alignment of your spine (your spine has a natural curve, so as straight as you can manage), your shoulders are back and sloped down, your head is positioned back (so your neck is vertical) with the crown elevated and your chin slightly down, chest is lifted, hips are tucked in, gluts are flexed, feet are shoulder width apart, knees are slightly bent, with a small effort to separate your knees (which assists in maintaining a proper stance and arch of your feet). Continue reading “Proper Form: Why it’s so important, what is proper form, and how it works”