Warming up primarily has two reasons for its importance: optimizing performance and injury prevention.
At a rested state, a low percentage of blood is shunted to the skeletal muscles at any given time, and with around 10-15 minutes of total body warm up exercises, the volume of blood flow to the body increases drastically. This raises the body’s temperature, which decreases stiffness and increases the mind muscle connection.
There has also been evidence showing improvements of psychological effects, such as increased preparedness to perform the activity.
Another factor that impacts many people, is the prevalence of Exercise Induced Asthma, especially in cold dry air. The narrowing of the airways in the lungs is triggered by strenuous activity, and causes shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. Proper warm ups can help negate these effects. (E.g. Making sure that you start with easier ski runs before going for the double black diamonds is going to help with improving performance!)
Below is a sequence of stretches you can do before taking part in your favourite cold weather activity:
Begin in plank position with shoulders above the wrists.
Exhale and reach pelvis towards the ceiling and slowly straighten the knees.
Lean side to side to intensify stretch one leg to another.
Draw chest towards thighs as you deeply inhale & exhale, and lengthen the posterior chain.
Hold position for 3 breaths.
Drop hips and body towards the ground.
Place hands along side your body next to lower ribs.
Inhale as you press up and straighten arms.
Press down through tops of feet and engage legs to keep thighs off the floor.
Press elbows beside the body, and pull the shoulders away from the ears.
Return the plank and repeat.
“World’s Greatest Stretch”
Begin in plank position.
Step forward with left foot and bring it to outside of the left hand.
Opposite knee should remain above the ground.
Drive the left elbow towards ground, breathe out while maintaining hips square.
Breathe in, rotate left hand up and reach the sky, breathe out and engage upper back muscles.
Repeat three times.
Slide hips back give the hamstrings a good stretch.
Repeat on the other side.
Begin with hands directly below shoulders and knees on the ground.
Place right ankle in front of left hip, the more parallel the shin angle is with the hips, the more intense the stretch will be.
Lower chest towards the ground and take three deep breaths.
Push up and hold for another three deep breaths.