Some get into the gym or an intense game and get down to it right away without warming up. But so many of such persons never experience any muscle injury like sports doctors like to warn us about.
But that doesn’t mean you should risk it too. There just could be some truth to the idea that warm-ups prevent muscle injury.
The importance of warming up before an exercise session or game has not been easy to definitively establish by research. This is because typically, such research requires some athletes to walk close to fire by taking a muscle stress test to determine the probability of getting injured when one gets into intense exercise without a warm up.
However, some studies conducted on the subject have established that it requires more stress to injure muscles that have gone through a warmup session compared to cold muscles that have gone right into intense workout.
The findings were in support of the widely-held notion that muscle injuries occur more often when the muscles have not warmed.
Apart from preventing injury, warming up improves performance by increasing body temperature, opening up blood vessels and improving blood flow to the skeletal muscles. Among other things, enhanced blood flow readies the nerves that carry impulses to the muscles, for action. The increase in temperature also helps hemoglobin in the blood to release oxygen more easily.
So how long should a warm-up last? No one can really say. We’re guessing about 15 minutes should be enough. A low-intensity aerobic exercise like slow jogging should do. But professional athletes who do more physically intense work shouldn’t warm up for anything less than 20 minutes. Not even if they’re confident of not suffering any muscle injury.