Training Tuesdays: Warming Up/Cooling Down

Though I don’t like to admit it, this injury has taught me that I can’t just launch into workouts without warming the old body up.  When I was all young and injury-free, I could get away with all sorts of ridiculousness with no ill effects. I could roll out of bed or get up from hours on the couch and run 15 km or hike 40km. I could sit in a car for hours driving to a trail head then just roll on up that mountain.

Oh, the times they have changed. What I notice now is that when I get off a good routine of warm ups/cool downs, my injury bothers me more or goes to hell like it did last week. It’s not all because of lack of warm up/cool downs, mind you, but omitting them certainly compounds my injury related issues.

How I feel mornings after I work out without warming up/cooling down...
How I feel after I work out without warming up/cooling down.

Even though I know that it’s important now, I’m working against years and years of resistance of the warm up/cool down. For years it seemed so pointless and it’s hard to get out of that mindset. Clamshells three times a day? Who has time for that? Resistance bands wrapped around coffee table legs? Clearly my physiotherapists had furniture more structurally sound than my IKEA specials. I’ve also had a number of dynamic stretching/warm up activities recommended to me over the years that I just flat out thought were ridiculous. High knees at a trail head parking lot? I don’t think so. I mean, people would see me.

Now, I’m constantly battling against that old mindset, telling myself how very important it is to a good workout (and recovery).  For me, the cost-benefit of completing warm ups and cool downs comes down to four critical factors:

  1. They must be targeted to my injury. Before, recommendations always seemed generic. My new warm up/cool downs are meant specifically for my SI and my trainer and physio can both explain to me how they help my injury.
  2. They must be quick and easy.  If it’s going to take 20 minutes, it’s not going to happen. If it requires special gear or equipment, it’s probably also not going to happen. I have three exercises, none of which require any equipment, and three sets of which can be completed in under five minutes.
  3. They must be non-embarrassing. Admittedly, this is a ridiculous measure given my current state, but I am vain. If I’m going to feel awkward warming up/cooling down in front of others, I’m going to avoid it like the plague.
  4. They must work.  When I do them consistently, they do actually help. I have better workouts and feel better the day after. I experience fewer setbacks.

With my warm up/cool down exercises meeting all these criteria, I should be all over them all the time. I’m trying, and getting better, but it’s especially hard when I start to feel like everything’s back on track again. Nobody’s perfect, right?



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