It’s been cold! As a Californian I have nothing to complain about, but 22 degrees is still 22 degrees, and my muscles feel it every time I head to the gym. With colder weather comes increased risk for training injuries that might not happen as often during the spring and summer months.
Before you hop on a treadmill or bike, here are 3 keys to an efficient warm up.
1. Tissue Quality (Foam rolling, lacrosse ball)
The quality of our tissues (muscles and fascia) is very important in preventing injury, whether it is cold or not. We need to focus on making sure we have the ideal length in our tissues. The closer we get our tissues to the correct length, the better the choices our body can make in movement. Better movement helps with limiting tweaking or straining our back, hamstrings, shoulders, or quads. Stretching has been the go-to tissue quality exercise, but myofacial release (foam rolling, lacrosse balls) has been shown to improve the quality at a deeper level. Why Can’t I Touch My Toes gives a few ideas on foam rolling.
2. Joint Positioning (Mobility)
To put it simply, mobility is being able to get a joint of the body to correct ranges of motion in a stable position. Mobility has grown in the general publics’ understanding because of books like Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett. Getting joints to be stable or mobile ensures that our movements are correctly effective and not restricted in anyway. When restriction is present, a joint injury is likely to follow. There are very practical ways to restore movement in stubborn joints which will help all movements whether it’s a squat, pull up, cleans, or bench. Getting to the gym and jogging for a few minutes before you start a heavy clean or squat day can be dangerous. If you want the best in mobility go to mobilitywod for amazing videos on how to work on your trouble areas.
3. Activation (Turning on muscles)
Once you have better tissue quality and joint positioning you can now start to activate or “wake up” those muscles. This is key, because your muscles need to know what they are going to be doing and when to do it. This can also be called motor control. Think of it as setting up the software in your body. Some examples are bodyweight lunges in all three planes of motion, pushups, pull ups, and bridges. These are done in 1 set for about 5 reps. Remember that this is to wake up the muscle not fatigue them.
While all of this might seem overwhelming, it can be done in 10-15 minutes. Believe me, your core temperature will keep you toasty and injury free for the rest of the workout. Remember RMA: Roll, Mobilize, Activate.
If you have a specific question or a certain area of trouble you would like help with, message me on twitter @tobygarza or follow me on Instagram @_tobz_ and I will be more than glad to reply.