Nearly 80% of all pain syndromes originate in muscle. Thankfully, there is no pain in healthy muscle tissue. Also, healthy muscle can be stretched, contracted, twisted and compressed without pain or restriction. Management of healthy muscle requires an adequate pre-activity warm-up, stretch and cool-down period. This article features the warm-up and is part one of a three part series that deals with feeling good.
Unlike most workers, athletes of all ages and skill levels, have learned that increasing body temperature before the activity will elevate performance. Pre-activity warming of muscle prepares athletes and workers both physically and mentally. Muscle warming elevates body temperature, increases blood circulation and speeds muscle contractions. A good pre-activity warm-up helps prevent joint sprains and muscle strains. This is especially true with the priority muscles that are always under greater stress.
Enzymes are substances in muscles that allow them to contract and relax. Enzymes allow muscles to convert food to energy and help expedite the conversion of waste products. When enzymes are warm, they are dramatically more effective and efficient. An added bonus is recognized by Covert Bailey who states, “A warm muscle burns more fat than a cold muscle.”
Following are three pre-activity warm-up techniques:
- Passive Warm-up involves raising body temperature with external sources such as hot baths, saunas, heating pads or by simply warming in the sun. Passive warm-ups are effective for superficial muscles and require virtually no depletion of food reserves in the muscle cells.
- General Warm-up elevates both superficial and deep muscle temperatures through active movements. Jogging in place, jumping rope or stationary bicycling are effective ways to elevate temperature of deep and superficial muscles. General warm-ups, however, deplete vital stores of muscle energy.
- Specific Warm-up is directed primarily to muscles that will be used most during specific activities. A good way to warm these priority muscles is by increasing localized circulation. I have talked with numerous companies over the past several years that use the Wellness Stick for this purpose. The Stick allows for both superficial and deep warming of muscle and can be used at the workstation. This wellness technique increases vital food reserves in the muscle cells.
Next time we will discuss general and segmental stretching in part two of this three part series.