Before starting a warm-up session
- We always have to consult a doctor before practicing any kind of physical activity
- In this context, we do not want to go too far into details but be as practical as possible
- After the practice of warm-up it is important to do some stretching exercises before the most intense part of training (read Basic soft stretching)
We have to pay particular attention especially if:
- We are over 30-35 years old
- We have suffered injuries or suffer from specific physiological problems
- We usually suffer from cramps
- We are naturally not too much flexibles
- Very easily we get hurt (inflammation, dislocations, etc.)
- It is a long time that we are not practicing a constant physical activity
What is the warm-up for?
Warm-up, like stretching (read How to correctly perform stretching), is a fundamental phase of any martial arts training:
- It lowers the energy threshold at which metabolic reactions occur
- It increases the inflow of oxygen to our muscles (they become more pliable and contractile)
- It increases the mechanical efficiency of our body (mobilize and lubricate our joints)
- Increases the transmission speed of nerve impulses from the brain
- It reduces the viscosity of the blood and synovial fluid in the joints
- It drastically reduces injuries to connective tissue, tendons and muscles
- Improves the effectiveness of the cardio-respiratory system in relation to the “explosive efforts”
- Last but not list, psychologically, the effort it offers us serves as a separator and liberation from the thoughts of everyday life
In general, the warm-up wakes up our body from the psychophysical torpor typical of modern life (immobility during work, slow awakening, stress, etc.).
How to properly perform the warm-up
To perform a proper warm-up, we must follow some important rules:
- Heat – As the word implies, one of the primary objectives of the warm-up is to increase the internal body temperature (generally speaking of 38-39°) and to reach the ideal condition for a peak performance
- Low intensity – The warm-up must consist of exercises (proportionally to the level of the practitioner) of low intensity; this prevents the early raising of the lactate
- No exaggerations – Under no circumstances should the warm-up be able to affect our ability to practice subsequent workouts (a disproportionate practice may even give rise to damages of various kinds)
- No risks – Warm-up must be simple; it’s absolutely wrong to practice dangerous (eg. weapon training) or acrobatic exercises (eg. kip-up); before starting not only our body has to be awakened but also our spatial intelligence (read The most important skill in combat)
- Never reach the end of elongation – Under no circumstances should the warm-up bring our muscles, tendons (etc.) to the maximum extension or resort to the use of explosive force; ignoring this rule grow dramatically the risk of injuries
- It can not be avoided – As we have seen, the warm-up does not only heat the body and, therefore, it must be performed beyond the external / collateral factors (in a sultry summer day we may think to be already naturally warmed up but this is not sufficient)
- No shortcuts or passive tools – There is no passive equipment (electrostimulation, irradiation, etc.) that can properly replace a real and effective active warm-up
- Sweating is not an indicator – Another important thing to stress is that sweat is not a reliable indicator of a completed or useless warm-up (a lot of people sweat even when they stand still, this is a little advantage but their body is not completely prepared)
- Precision – Although the warm-up (unlike stretching that is more sectoral) more easily incorporates multiple body elements, it is essential to concentrate our work on what we are going to use more directly / intensely
When to perform warm-up exercises?
- Before performing any type of physical activity and before even the lighter stretching session (especially if we have exceeded 30-35 years); an alternative for situations of reduced time is the dynamic stretching that combines phases of slight stretching to a light-medium warm-up (we will talk about this later)
- Possibly within a morning training (read Tips on how to stretch our training times), in such a way that, together with stretching, we guarantee to be able to face any eventual critical issues related to personal defense with “minor” risks (it is well known that in 90% of cases, in this kind of situations, the time of preparation of the body for combat is almost null)
- For about 10-20 minutes; the duration should be adjusted in relation to the intensity level of the following activities, the age of the practitioner and his athletic condition; longer and less intense stretching and warm-up are advisable for over 30-35 years practitioners
In the next article of this series, we will see some simple but effective exercises useful for raising the internal temperature.
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.