By Sergey Danilov
A warm-up involves doing exercises at a lower intensity and slower pace, exercises which prepare athletes for the specific work, improve athletic performance, and prevent injuries. Are these not enough reasons to take it seriously?
Warm-up activities might include, but definitely are not limited to, light jogging, jogging with some additional exercise, and warming up muscles necessary for the future work. Warming up before exercise prepares your cardiovascular system for physical activity by increasing the blood flow to your muscles and raising the temperature of your body. It also helps to lower the risk of injuries — when your muscles are adequately warmed up, the movements, stretches, and strain put on them during your workout is less severe. This also minimizes muscle soreness.
So why exactly do we warm-up?
1. Injury Prevention
The most important reason for doing a warm-up is to prevent injury during practice in general and during specific work. Keeping the muscles warm will prevent injuries such as hamstring strains, for example (one of the most important muscles for fencing). Stretching is considered part of the warm-up and should be included all the time in your preparation for practice, events, and private lessons.
2. Mental Preparation
A side benefit of warming up is that your brain will become focused on your body and your physical activity as you go through the process. This focus will carry over into your training or competition session to help improve your technique, coordination and skill.
3. Relieving Stress Before Events
One important thing we have to learn is that competition creates stress and that will never go away. So we just have to learn to deal with stress and find ways to reduce it so we can focus on more important tasks.
Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers. Conventional wisdom holds that a workout of low to moderate intensity makes you feel energized and healthy.
Scientists have found that participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, and improve self-esteem. Even five minutes of aerobic exercise can stimulate anti-anxiety effects. So bottom line – make sure you warm-up – it will help you physically and mentally.
And finally – specific warm-ups before events:
With all the points stated above, do not forget that warming-up before events takes a lot of time and as you prepare it should include the following:
- Warm-up itself
- Light footwork
- Light blade work with your teammates to feel the actions, blade and point control
- Warm-up bouts (where you should be trying out all “arsenal” you have, to see what feels best at the moment).
A lot of athletes ask what are appropriate amounts to do for each part of the warm-up? The answer is pretty simple – it is up to the individual, and you should develop your own routine during practices at the gym according to what is best for you.
To conclude, remember: warm-up every time you come to the gym, try to listen to your body and see what routine makes you feel your best mentally and physically. Once you figure out what is the best warm-up for you, stick to it and adjust when you feel you need it.