Everyone knows the absolute importance of fitness for football players. Many people overlook the importance of the warm up and cool down exercises athletes must perform not just for good fitness but to avoid injury that often results from eschewing exactly these before and after exercises. We do so many activities that don’t necessitate warming up and cooling down from simple eating to playing chess or checkers. We don’t have to get prepared to play online slots or go shopping. Athletic activity is different.
Benefits of a Good Warm UpThe warm up is intended to increase our heart rate which in turn increases blood flow. This brings more oxygen to our muscles. Without the warm up, there is a definite risk of overburdening our muscles causing serious injury. The warm up should precede some simple stretches. These make tired or rested muscles more limber.
The warm up and stretching don’t take a long time; they are the simple preparatory activities we do before more intensive physical exertion. Warming up is also important for non-athletic activity such as shoveling snow. Many people suffer needless heart attacks which often kill the victims because they didn’t take the time to warm up before venturing out into the cold to shovel away the snow.
Warm Up before Intense ActivityFootball is a game of intense running, long term endurance requirements, vertical jumping, and extreme flexibility. We practice all the time and we need to warm up correctly before we do so. The warm up should raise our body temperature by a single or possibly two degrees Celsius. This does not mean that we are ill; it means that our bodies are getting ready for intensive activity.
Only when we have raised our body temperature can we safely perform the stretches that are the second part of a good pre-activity regimen. Stretching further increases blood flow and the oxygenation of our muscles. Many people have too little oxygen in their blood under normal circumstances. Beef and coffee are two of the main causes of low oxygenation so these exercises are an absolute must to get our muscles ready for more strenuous activity.
Walking is an excellent warm up activity. You can walk at a relatively mild pace and then do some stretches. Even if you’re not an athlete training for a high level of performance, walking and stretching is a great boon to your constitution.
A proper warm up increases the range of motion of your muscles. It doesn’t really matter if you’re planning a football practice or getting ready to shovel snow; increasing the range of motion of your muscles is important in allowing them to exert more.
A proper warm up increases the secretion of hormones that will metabolize the carbohydrates in your blood, the glycogen in your liver, and your body’s fat store after the carbs and glycogen have been used up.
The increased flow of blood also helps your brain work harder to sustain the exercise regimen and also to protect your muscles and organs. Injuries have been linked to reduced or insufficient blood flow to the brain. The brain needs most of the oxygen in our bodies under normal circumstances. As much as our muscles need oxygen during intensive exercise, our brain remains the engine that controls everything. Feed the brain is not merely a sentiment; it’s a real fact of life, especially before exercising.
Long after you exercise, your muscles will remain flexible and limber. The long term result is fewer muscle cramps and more muscular coordination for everyday activities.
Cooling DownYou warmed up and exercised for an extended period of time. Now you must help your body cool down. Stopping activity too soon is comparable to coming up from deep below the sea too fast; you can injure yourself with an insufficient or non-existent cool down.
StretchingThe stretches you do to cool down are far less intensive and far slower than the stretches you did before exercising. The point is to allow your muscles to get back to their normal position slowly. Many yoga poses are also good for cooling down.
Deep breathing during exercise is fast and brings ever more oxygen to your muscles. Deep breathing in the cool down phase is done slowly. Here, again, yoga breathing is excellent for this part of your overall exercise programme.
WalkingJust as walking is a good way to warm up, slow steady walking is a great way to cool down.
Drink WaterThere is much controversy regarding what constitutes safe water but no one disputes the fact that after we exercise we need to drink water. It’s best to not drink coffee, soda pop, or even fruit juice until our bodies have cooled down sufficiently. Alcohol is a big no no. We may want a cold pint of beer but that may be the worst thing we can drink immediately after an exercise or practice session.
Eat a Light SnackOur bodies are not ready yet for a full meal but a snack is great. After drinking water, a piece of fruit is an excellent way to ingest digestible sugar, electrolytes, and antioxidants.
Fruit is the lightest food we can eat when it’s compared to the benefits it provides our bodies. The heavier the food we eat after an exercise session, the more likely we will hurt ourselves internally and even reverse the benefits we gained through the exercise itself.