William D. Jones, MD, serves as a preventive and occupational medicine physician in Oklahoma City, OK. In his free time, William D. Jones, MD, of Oklahoma enjoys exercising at a local gym.
For any athlete, a proper warm-up is essential as an injury avoidance technique. An effective warm-up requires a minimum of six to 10 minutes and involves both activation of the muscles and increased engagement of the cardiovascular system.
If a person has been sedentary, there is typically no more than 20 percent blood flow to the skeletal muscles, and the capillaries in these muscles are closed. Warming up helps the athlete to increase this blood flow and open the capillaries, which in turn raises muscle temperature and enables the muscles themselves to contract, relax, and transmit nerve signals more easily.
As the muscles become more responsive, they also become more difficult to injure. A cold muscle is easy to tear, just as a stiff rubber band is easier to tear. By moving the muscles gently yet continuously, each muscle worked becomes more elastic and ready for the demands of a challenging workout.