Why You Should Incorporate Warm-Up and Cool-Down Stretches for Peak Performance
June 24, 2019
By Elaine Chen
At 41 years old, Tom Brady is the NFL’s oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. This year’s victory over the Rams marked the 3rd time in 5 years that Tom Brady led the Patriots to a championship title. The average age of all starting quarterbacks in 2018 was 30.3 years old, with some of the younger quarterbacks in the 21-25 age range. How does Brady, almost twice the age of other NFL quarterbacks, compete, remain injury free and perform at such a high level?
Brady attributes his peak performance to a principle that he calls muscle pliability. “Muscle pliability is the missing leg of the traditional strength and training model of aerobic activity and weight lifting,” says Brady, and “can help anyone who’s interested in elevating their performance and living an energetic life on and off the field.” Brady ties the concept of pliability to the TB12 Method, his elite training regimen and method that recommends using expensive $150+ TB12-branded products to achieve pliability.
In fact, pliability is a rather ambiguous term generally describing muscles that are flexible, mobile, and lengthened rather than dense and stiff. While we respect Brady’s elite methods, we believe pliability can be achieved by anyone through stretching and warm-up/cool-down routines. This is why it was a huge priority for Fitbod this year to incorporate warm-up and cool-down exercises in the app!
Warming up, as the term describes, warms the body by starting up the cardiovascular system and increasing blood flow, which should be done prior to the workout session. Slowly increasing the blood flow to the heart and muscles helps with decreasing the risk of irregular heartbeats and poor circulation. A proper warm-up has also been shown to decrease the risk of injury during any fitness activity as well as reduce the degree of muscle soreness and increase mobility. Warm-ups prevent injuries by increasing muscle elasticity and tendon/ligament flexibility, or what Brady’s TB12 Method might refer to as muscle pliability.
Warm-up routines can include different types of stretches and work. “Generally speaking, the warm up template that can be useful for most people is Soft Tissue Work, Static Stretching, Dynamic Stretching, and Activation,” says Chris Matsui, Fitbod ambassador and NYC Performance Training Specialist at Fusion Performance Training. “It’s dependent on the needs of the individual, how they’re feeling that day and the amount of total workout time available.”
Fitbod’s algorithm will offer recommendations for warm-up exercises based on the targeted muscle groups and exercises in the overall workout. Some effective warm-up exercises include:
Foam Roll Quadriceps (soft tissue)
Side Bend Stretch (static stretch)
Bear Crawl (dynamic stretch)
“After a workout, it is best to get a slow steady movement in to bring the heart rate down but still keep the blood flowing,” says Matsui. Cool-downs provide benefits such as prevention of muscle soreness and lightheadedness/faintness after a completed workout as well as increased mobility. The routine allows blood to slowly return to your heart from the muscles and helps your body remove lactic acid, which reduces the chance of your muscles being sore after a workout.
Similar to warm-up exercises, Fitbod will recommend specific cool-down exercises based on what muscles and movements you have just completed in your workout. Some examples of cool-down exercises include:
Child’s Pose (static stretch)
Single Leg Glute Bridge (dynamic stretch)
Stretching and warm-up/cool-down routines have long been used by trainers, athletes, and physical therapists as an essential part of fitness. Stretching increases range of motion around joints and reduces injuries, mainly due to reduced stiffness of the muscle-tendon unit and neural adaptations causing improved stretch tolerance. Other benefits of stretching and warm-up/cool-down routines include decreased stress, especially when combined with mindful breathing, better posture, and increased energy. Try a warm-up and/or cool-down with your next Fitbod workout today!