By. Dr. Amir Mahmud
With the Tour de California coming to town (Final stage in Westlake half a mile from our Westlake office) we were recently asked to give a lecture at Conejo Valley Cycling (CVC) club on the topics of proper hydration, nutrition, warming up, stretching and cooling down. Since most of the members were very interested on the warm up, stretching, cooling down part of the lecture I decided to dedicate this blog on how to properly warm up, stretch and cool down in order to avoid sports related injuries.
So, why should we warm up and stretch prior to exercising? Did you know that a proper warm up and stretching routine can improve an athlete’s performance by as much as 15%?
Here are some guidelines to follow in order to take full advantage of your body and maximize your workout experience.
• Always warm up prior to stretching &/or exercising
o Warming up increases the blood flow to your muscles, ligaments and tendons
o At least 3 to 5 min of mild cardiovascular training is recommended to warm up sufficiently
Examples of a good warm up prior to ride include:
• Getting on your trainer and ride for 20 min prior to your race
• Jump rope for 10-15 min
• Fast walk to the point of sweating
• Slow bike ride to the point of sweating
• Slow jog to the point of sweating
Once you have warmed up you can begin your stretch routine. Remember in order to increase your performance by 15% you have to make stretching part of your daily routine. Proper stretching includes 3 different aspects. Frequency, Intensity, and duration.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these topics.
• Frequency refers to how often you do your stretches. It is recommended to stretch at least 1-2 times daily.
• Intensity refers to how hard you stretch. For example when you are doing a set of 10 repetitions of hamstring stretch you want to ease your way into the stretch. The first 2-4 repetitions should be held at the initial phase of muscle contraction. The next few repetitions push the muscle a bit farther into the stretch. By the 8-10 repetition you can push the muscle farther and farther. Make sure you breathe in order to have proper oxygen supply for the muscles. It is very important to remember to avoid the “No pain, No gain” theory. This can actually lead to injuries.
• Duration refers to how long you hold each stretch. It is recommended to hold each stretch a minimum of 10 seconds and in order to get the full benefits of the stretch, hold for 60 seconds
Once you have finished your ride/exercise it is important to cool down properly. When you cool down properly you can decrease sports specific injuries, cut down on lactic acid build up in your muscles, reduce overuse, and prevent post race stiffness. A proper cool down will allow the heart rate and respiration rates to decrease gradually, placing less stress on body systems than if the activity is abruptly stopped.
The biggest complaint I hear is “I don’t have time to do all of this, or, I never use to do all of this”. The answer to the first, is you don’t have time NOT too, and the answer to the second is, your getting older, you body has gotten away with mistakes for years and it won’t last much longer. To properly take care of your body you have always had to do all of this, remember, just because you haven’t, does not mean you shouldn’t.
I hope these general guidelines help you get the most out of your ride. If you have any questions or want to know specific stretches feel free to contact me and I will gladly go over them with you. Till next time, have a fun and safe ride. Dr. Amir can be reached at CSI Westlake, 2277 Townsgate Road, ste 101, Westlake Village, Ca 91361. 805.371.0737 or visit us on the web at www.gotcsi.com
Dr. Amir Mahmud is one of the Sports Chiropractors at Chiropractic Sports Institute in Westlake Village. He has been a treating Doctor on the sidelines of many sports and as successfully treated many Professional and top amateur athletes for years. Dr. Terry Weyman, the CEO of CSI, has been named the Medical Director of the final stage of the Tour de California.