Sports and other types of physical activity can be an important part of maintaining good health. Physical activity helps keep a person’s heart and lungs strong, increases muscle strength and flexibility and can reduce stress.

With so many health benefits, it seems as if exercise doesn’t have any potential downsides. However, participating in sports or other types of activities can easily lead to an injury for those who skip warm-up and cool-down exercises. It’s not uncommon for a sports injury to be followed by months of rehabilitation, leading to further setbacks for those trying to achieve their fitness goals.

Fortunately, one of the easiest ways a person can avoid becoming injured is to consistently include both warm-up and cool-down exercises as part of their fitness routine.

The value of warm-up exercises

Participating in warm-up exercises before intense physical activity helps prepare the body in a number of ways. Warm-up exercises help lubricate joints and other tissues. They also increase blood flow, which reduces the build-up of lactic acid in muscles. Less lactic acid means less muscle soreness the day after an intense workout.

Warm-up exercises also help tight muscles become more flexible and ready for activity. Increasing muscle flexibility helps a person reduce their risk of tearing a muscle when performing at an intense level. Lastly, warming up allows the heart and lungs to gradually transition from being at rest to heart-pumping exercise.

The value of cool-down exercises

It’s especially important to gradually transition from intense physical activity to an inactive state. Abruptly ending intense physical activity can make a person feel nauseous, dizzy or faint. This is because an abrupt cessation of activity leaves excess blood pooled in large muscles. Cool-down exercises can prevent this by allowing the heart rate to gradually return to normal, along with redistributing blood from larger muscles back to organs and other important tissues.

Cool-down exercises also allow the body to more efficiently remove waste products such as lactic acid, so a person experiences less muscle soreness the following day. Lastly, cool-down exercises allow muscles to gradually return to their “at-rest” length, rather than remaining in a chronically contracted (shortened) state.

Avoiding orthopedic injuries

Warm-up and cool-down exercises help active people avoid many types of injuries but especially orthopedic ones. At Missouri Orthopedics & Advanced Sports Medicine, we hope that taking the time to complete these types of exercises keeps your joints, muscles and ligaments in good health. But if an injury does occur, we are here to help. Don’t let orthopedic pain keep you from doing what you love. Contact us today!