The Myth of ''Warming Up'' and ''Cooling Down''

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The Myth of ''Warming Up'' and ''Cooling Down''

Postby yat_chum » Tue Mar 13, 2007 11:41 am

The Myth of ''Warming Up'' and ''Cooling Down'' by Michael Jen

Ever since you can remember, I’m sure you have been told about the importance of warming up before engaging in sports and strenuous physical activity. You’ve probably been told that a proper warm up will decreasing the likelihood of injuries such as pulling a muscle or getting a cramp.

In the past, we all were told to stretch when warming up. Now many athletic trainers are saying that stretching is an “old school” mentality and should not be done when the body is cold. It is now said that stretching should be done after the workout. The new mentality for warming up with many trainers is more along the lines of light activity to get a slight sweat going to get the body warm.

Warming up does increase your flexibility. However, if you have ever gotten a cramp or pulled a muscle, think about what happened. Was it a result of being stretched beyond your flexibility? Was your body already warmed up when it happened?

From my personal experience with martial arts training, most people got cramps or pulled muscles when they exerted themselves very hard rather than being stretched beyond their range of motion. Most of the time, this also happens well into the training or workout when the body was already warm.

Cramps and muscle pulls are caused my muscular imbalances in the body. When you have an imbalance, certain muscles are not working properly, so other muscle groups must pick up the slack and perform functions that they may not be designed to do. When you really push yourself, there is a point in which those compensating muscles can’t exert any harder and that is when you may get a cramp or pull. This is your body’s automatic defense mechanism to stop further damage.

Warming up by light activity or stretching will not decrease your chances of these problems one single bit due to the fact that it does not restore muscular balance. A body with muscular balance can go right into blasting with 100% physical exertion without any additional warming up. You should also be wary of random stretching at the end of a workout as part of the “cool down”as it can increase muscular imbalances.

So the best way to prevent muscular injuries is to do a short pre-workout program that establishes muscular balance in the body. Similarly, if you get a cramp or muscle pull, the best way to resolve the problem is also to restore that balance. In addition, after working out, rather than random stretching, a short post-workout program would be advisable in order to negate any imbalances that may have been caused by the workout.

About the Author

Michael Jen, a life-long martial artist, is a Muscle Balance and Function Development® (MBF®) Posture Alignment Therapist based in California. For more information, please consult
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Postby SunTzu » Wed Mar 14, 2007 12:21 pm

So what exactly is new about this ?

Isn't it common knowledge that muscles should only be stretched AFTER being heated from the inside ie. a warm-up ?

There is a certain way of stretching muscles which warm up the particular muscular groups while (simultanuous) executing the same exersize.
For example, while stretching the hamstrings you should let the particular muscular group know that it will be stretched, by (in this instance) pressing the heel in the ground for at least 20-30 secs before stretching the actual muscles. This in NO CASE is a substitute for a warm-up, it's an extra to make sure the muscles are properly warmed up at the time of stretching them.

ps. I'm not attacking your post (I know it's a book, not your own opinion perse), just adding some experiences.
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Postby lilman » Wed Feb 13, 2008 2:06 pm

On this subject, I have learned a lot.

As far as physical exercise, I was in the Army for 4 years, and whenever we would do PT (Physical Training) we would stretch before as our warmup, and after as a cool down. The results were specifically noteable in the winter months, The stretching would warm up our muscles and we could do more physical exercise (ie running, squats, pushups, situps, rolls, crenches, etc) without risk of injury. When we didnt Stretch we noticed we were more likely to get cramps, pull muscles, twist ankles, etc. We done it as a cooldown to prevent cramps after our muscles relaxed.

As far as Martial Arts, I learned stretching is GREAT for reducing the risk of injuries when practicing applications such as catching kicks and chin na. If not it is easier to over extend and pull muscles cuz your muscles range of motion is less.

As far as Qigong, warm up and cool down exercises are essential. Stretching helps open up the meridians and loosen the muscles, relaxation training does the same. Then to complete your warmup, you must build qi in the dantian, after your qi is built, then you can do the exercise (ie circulation) then you must do a cool down by bringing the qi back to the dantian, then massage yourself and move and shake to loosten the stagnate qi, as you slowly come back from your meditative state.

So regardless what kind of exercise you do, Warmups is a very important part according to my experience.
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Postby sysop » Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:47 am

Thought this new article information would add to this thread:

If you’re like most of us, you were taught the importance of warm-up exercises back in grade school, and you’ve likely continued with pretty much the same routine ever since. Science, however, has moved on. Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes’ warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually bad for you. The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds — known as static stretching — primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them. In a recent study conducted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, athletes generated less force from their leg muscles after static stretching than they did after not stretching at all. Other studies have found that this stretching decreases muscle strength by as much as 30 percent. Also, stretching one leg’s muscles can reduce strength in the other leg as well, probably because the central nervous system rebels against the movements.

Here is the link to the full article:
Last edited by sysop on Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Dvivid » Fri Nov 07, 2008 3:50 pm

So, to be more correct:

Warming up is good for you, but you should not use STATIC (motionless) stretches.
"Avoid Prejudice, Be Objective in Your Judgement, Be Scientific, Be Logical and Make Sense, Do Not Ignore Prior Experience." - Dr. Yang
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Postby Josh Young » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:37 pm

I warm up in the morning after I wake up.
I do the same exercises in the evening before bed.
These things I do every day.
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Postby nitsuj » Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:02 pm

[b]2 Articles worth reviewing:[/b]
1. ... arm_Up.htm

2. ... ching.html

[b]"Benefits of a gradual warm-up[/b]
1. Increases muscle core temperature that decreases the work required for contraction.

2. Improves coronary blood flow in the early stages of exercise and reduces myocardial ischemia (poor oxygen supply to the heart muscle).

3. Permits a gradual increase in metabolic processes.
Enhances cardiorespiratory performance which allows higher maximum cardiac output and oxygen consumption.

4. Prevents the premature onset of blood lactic acid accumulation and fatigue at higher levels of intense exercise.

5. Warmed muscles are less susceptible to injury.

6. Allows for a psychological warm-up increasing arousal and focus."

I guess it really boils down to how intense your training sessions are. If you're hardly breaking a sweat, or your more interested in chatting and taking it easy, then you probably don't need to worry about a warm-up or cool down. If you take your training seriously, and actually push yourself, then you will benefit from a warm up and cool down.

In regards to [i]how[/i] you stretch:
"Many of the best strength coaches support the use of dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching consists of functional based exercises which use sport specific movements to prepare the body for movement. (8) “Dynamic stretching, according to Kurz, "involves moving parts of your body and gradually increasing reach, speed of movement, or both." Do not confuse dynamic stretching with ballistic stretching! Dynamic stretching consists of controlled leg and arm swings that take you (gently!) to the limits of your range of motion. Ballistic stretches involve trying to force a part of the body beyond its range of motion. In dynamic stretches, there are no bounces or "jerky" movements. "
This comes from ... tching.htm
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A great video to check out.

Postby nitsuj » Sat May 22, 2010 3:01 pm

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