Warm Up Your Muscles

Find out the right way to warm up and cool down your muscles after physical activity, especially in the winter.

I have a very vivid memory of leaving a dance class and jumping into my dad’s car, rolling down the window and essentially sticking half my body out the window to cool down as we drove home. My dad saw what I was doing and immediately tells me to roll up the window because I was going to catch a cold.

Years later, I realized that what he was really telling me was that I was not cooling down properly. Now I’m one of those people who throws on a sweatshirt after a sweaty workout.  I also routinely wore a scarf during college in Southern California in all seasons. It’s especially important to protect your neck when you’re doing physical activity and going between drastically different temperatures. A lot of buildings turn the heat up too high in the winter, and then it’s so cold outside that it makes it difficult for your body to adjust to such extremes in a short amount of time.

Slips and Falls

As you may have heard by now, it’s an El Nino year, which supposedly means that it’s going to be milder in the north and wetter in the south this winter. This means in addition to staying warm, you need to be careful about slips, trips and falls. When people get older, slips, trips and falls become a real issue because of the way we avoid falling and how we get back up. Have you ever slipped a bit and managed to avoid falling and then noticed that your back hurts? Remember learning in a science class that every action has an opposite and equal reaction? Well, you just proved it. Your back hurt because the way you righted yourself to avoid falling torqued your back.

The Right Way to Layer

Back to staying warm, it’s incredibly important to layer up on clothing during winter rehearsals. Yes, you will probably get a good sweat and need to remove some layers, but as rehearsal comes to an end, which should include some stretching at the conclusion to cool your body down, you should start to add your layers back on.

Like Snow Angels

One of my favorite ways to warm up the body is to lay flat on the ground and gently point and flex the feet to create a rocking in the body. Since this is a warm-up, you need to exaggerate the movement in the heels to really allow the rest of the body to get it in on the action.

As you build momentum, start to move your arms over your head and back down, like you are making snow angels. Repeat the arm movement with the heel rock for a couple repetitions. Give yourself at least five minutes of this exercise while wearing the majority of your layers to naturally warm up the body. You should never rely on a warm room to do this for you because your muscles won’t actually be warm even though you may feel hot.

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