A Focused warm up is better than stretching.
Everyday Janes and Joes are aware the exercise is an important aspect of life. Putting that ideology to practice is another matter and discussion. But for those people who dabble with exercise activity, whether the weekend warriors or the exercise fanatics, have different point of views and approach to the idea of “warm-up”. Some believe it is important and others think it’s a waste of time. And for those population who believe in warm-up, there is another divide in thinking of how this activity should be done. Dynamic vs passive/static warm up are the two schools of thought that separates those people who regards the importance of the activity.
Activities such as running place, jumping jacks, walking, slow jog are among the typical ways people practice dynamic warm up. Others participate in passive warm up activities like gentle stretches, active breathing, heating blankets, and activity visualization. The goal of warm up is to gradually prepare the body for the stress of exercises/activities impart on the body and decrease the risks of injuries.
There is a plethora of research on the effect of warm up activity but many of those studies does not specify what type of warm up activities are 100% effective. It becomes difficult to navigate where to obtain proper information about warm up when monthly magazines offer different conflicting methods and approach this simple and basic activity. Along with written media, the glut of “the best warm-ups” that plagues Youtube and Instagram enhances the confusion of how to approach warming up especially when its propagated by the so-called social media exercise experts.
An example of a warm-up study conducted by Mc Gowan et al in 2015 reports increase in adenosine triphosphate turnover, muscle cross-bridge cycling rate and oxygen uptake kinetics. In other words, the muscle and cellular powerhouse are shows increase in energy production and oxygen usage/exchange.
The cellular effects in the muscle produced by warming up is undeniable. As the muscle engage or triggered by action potential, muscle respiration takes place. The group of soft tissue group involved in the activity produces changes in its characteristics. Peiters et al performed a study on December 2020 looking at the effect of warm up on Achilles tendon blood flow and stiffness and found that the running (for 10 minutes) and plyometrics showed significant change in Achilles tendon blood flow and stiffness versus static stretching and eccentric exercise revealed no changes on the tendon. The researchers also suggests that their findings illustrate that warm-up activities should be tailored to the participants’ activities. Studies such as these allows for better understanding and education of proper approach to warming up prior to exercise.
As for passive/static warm up activities, the minimal muscular response produced may be better implemented during post exercise activity. The gradual decrease in muscle respiration and activity can promote better muscle elasticity, joint decompression, and injury prevention.
The debate between dynamic and passive/static warm up should not distract from the main purpose of the activity which is to regularly participate in exercise and to prevent injury. For exercising regularly is where everyone can gain massive benefits in health and wellbeing.