Yes. There is no doubt that stretching is a very important part of exercising of any kind. The flexibility of the muscles and tendons are crucial when it comes to performance, but there is a but. We’ve all been in a spot where someone else’s warm up is our top end. I am often caught with a batch of Cat 2-3 riders who say that we’ll ride the first few miles just warming up, and that “warm up” pace is in Zone 4 for me! I’m not going to get dropped, so I hammer it out, all the while screaming in my head that this is not good. We’ve also been in the spot where time is running out and the workout just has to get done, so we just hit it wide open. Warming up or preparing the muscles for what is ahead is just as important as the work out itself.
Sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself. What some people define as a warm up is NOT a warm up. A warm up is literally warming up the body before any type of physical stress. It can be a small jog, jumping rope, rowing, a spin in Zone 1, and on and on. Before entering the stretching phase, you should have a slight film of perspiration on your body and your heart should be slightly elevated. You might be thinking that this will add so much more time that you don’t already have, so let me explain what it does for you:
- muscles become more pliable as increased blood temperature courses through your body.
- you will increase the delivery of the right nutrients to your body.
- you will become more mentally prepared of your coming workout.
- the body will be prompted to increase hormonal changes in the body to provide the correct amount of energy.
- the joints will be able to handle the workload (and do a better job of protecting the joint), due to the warming of the synovial fluid.
- avoids a rapid increase in blood pressure which is a terrible strain on the heart
- rapidly helps in the transportation of oxygen to the body to aid in the prevention of getting caught short of breath early in the workout.
If you are going to take the time to workout, help yourself have the best workout you can have. Make it a habit. Arrive a few minutes early. Sustain a natural warm up routine that will enable you to use your workout to help you and not the opposite. Injury often happens because an athlete lacks a proper warm up. Going from a resting heart rate to top end in a matter of minutes is not good . . . not good. Try it a few times and see the difference.