When you’re getting ready to work out and don’t have much time to begin with, it gets tempting to get right to it and take advantage of the time you do have. Or when you go for a run, maybe you just put on your snickers and burst out the door without thinking of anything else. Neglecting your warm-ups can lead to knee pain and can really affect your leg workouts.
Your knee is one of the most complex joints in the body. If you want to protect your knee joint each time you work out or run, this means you have to warm its tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Properly warming up, you prepare your legs for exercise, preventing injury and reducing muscle stiffness. Any exercise that includes rigorous knee bending can lead to a possible problem if performed without a 10 to 15 minutes warm-up first.
Harming one of your ligaments, especially in the knee, can transform your days and nights in a total nightmare. Most of the people say that it is one of the most annoying things that can happen. A.C.L., very well known as anterior cruciate ligament, can be easily avoided with a proper warm-up.
The warm-up program also known as neuromuscular training was designed to ensure that the rate of your knee injuries are significantly reduced. In fact, every action has a solid reason behind it, right? What does a perfect warm-up help you with?
For starters, it will increase the body temperature and the efficiency of the muscle movement. Warm-up will lubricate the joints and will increase the neural activation. Our muscles need oxygen and the warm-up training can help you to raise the oxygen use for the muscles.
If you are planning to go for a cardio session, be aware that a warm-up is necessary to get your nervous and cardiovascular system ready to go! Also, let’s not forget about the fact that it can improve your performance.
Avoid rushing things and take a minute before every workout to prepare yourself and warm up your joints. You’ll be glad you did so. Take care of your body as it takes care of you all the time. You can start warming up your knees with 10 minutes of light intensity cardio, with an easy pace for one or two minutes, gradually increasing the intensity. Keep in mind that a warm-up should not be too challenging; the challenge comes when the real workout begins.
Another way you can help your joints obtain a full range of motion is by doing dynamic stretches. This kind of stretching is better than the static stretching because it uses controlled leg movements and loosens up muscles. Some examples of dynamic stretches include:
- Skipping - a fun way to start your workout. It can be done with your friends or alone and it will remind you of childhood. Moreover, rope jumping is one of the best cardio and HIIT workouts, burns more calories than running, helps in muscle toning and improves the density of your bones.
- Side stepping - can become your best friend if you want sculpted glutes and great hamstrings. You go ahead and thank us later for the tip!
- Butt kicks - great warm-up exercise especially if you see yourself running marathons and a running champion. It works your hamstrings and can be performed in different ways such as low density or even high density.
- Backward jogging - can be very unusual for most of us, but fun… if you pay attention! Backward jogging will take your body out of the comfort zone and will work all of your muscles, including ankles. The good part is you can do that if you are injured since it will not affect the injured parts. The fun part is that you will improve your muscle balance, you will burn more calories and you will see great results in your performance.
DOs And DON’Ts
- Warm-up and stretch before every workout, emphasizing quad and hamstrings muscles.
- Avoid knee problems by doing cross training on a regular basis to balance out the body.
- Wear compression gear such as knee sleeves and knee wraps to furthermore increase your performance.
- Avoid locking knees completely when doing squats and lunges.
- If you are new to an exercise, don’t overdo it.
- Don’t straighten your legs completely when exercising on the bicycle.
- Don’t use more weight than you can handle.
- Don’t ignore pain.
Make sure you stretch to ensure the maximum of flexibility. It’s great and highly recommended to warm-up pre-workout, but it’s also mandatory that you stretch post-workout as well! You can use the same exercises or specific stretches to do that (arm, leg, hip stretches are great).
For further protection and reducing the risk of joint injury, consider some knee sleeves or knee wraps that will stabilize your joints and ensure a pain-free workout and enhanced recovery. These are also helpful if your body is put under immense weight when you are lifting heavy. Better safe than sorry, right?
If you follow the tips we’ve given you, you will be able to train as intensely as you need to, preventing any problems. There is no limit to the variety of warm-up moves you can do, so find a couple of enjoyable warm-ups and use them before and – why not – after each workout. Try to stress your body less and make your workouts a lot more fun everyday!