Warming up and stretching is vital for fitness

Stretching is key to avoiding injury
Stretching is key to avoiding injury

Our fitness expert, The Colonel, gives his advice on how to stay injury free...

Starting your workout straight away when working out, whether it’s cardio or weights, can be a huge mistake and might put your body at risk.

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Strains, pulls and tears are the most common injuries people get from working out and nearly 75% of these injuries can be prevented by simply warming up and stretching.

A warm-up allows your muscles the opportunity to loosen up, improving extensibility and decreasing resistance, allowing you to push your body to the limit with a substantially smaller risk of injury.

If you rarely warm up or stretch and haven’t been injured, count yourself lucky, but a word of warning – it’s just a matter of time.

Any fitness coach, professional athlete or academic will tell you the first step in preventing injuries is warming up and stretching, and some of the key things you should be looking to do, to make sure your body is ready for exerciseinclude:

Elevating your heart rate

This is all about warming the body and getting the oxygen flowing, to stop fatigue and prepare your body for its workout. A simple two-minute jog will suffice.

Putting your body through the motions

Let your body know what’s to come. Warm ups should be tailored to the workout you are going to be doing so your body can prepare. So, for example, stretch your thigh muscles if you are about to jump over hurdles.

Not rushing it!

People may warm up and stretch, but they don’t necessarily do it properly.

A common misconception is that you should hold your stretch for 10 seconds.

Wrong! A stretch should be held for a minimum of 20 seconds (ideally 30) for it to make a significant difference.