Track suits. Sweatpants. Fuzzy hoodies. What do these have to do with luxurious recovery and flexibility? HEAT!
A good warm-up includes rhythm and sweat
When the muscles are both warm and in motion, the joints will release lubricating fluid to help bones glide over joint angles more easily.
Warm muscles are more cooperative and less likely to pull or tear. If you’re running outside in the cold, be sure to wear layers that protect the muscles and keep them contracting safely.
Some people love heat and others run the A/C on full blast. Sweat is sometimes considered rude, something to avoid at all costs. But the way your body works with heat can be used as a strategy to improve your flexibility and help you recover faster.
A COLD MUSCLE IS AN INJURED MUSCLE
Air conditioning is a good invention, but it has some drawbacks. While it helps prevent the body from heat exhaustion and other obvious problems with over-heating, it can also prevent proper muscle warm-up and cool-down.
Stretching out in a cold room causes the muscles to tense in a reflex designed to maintain body heat. This tension can interfere with flexibility training and make the muscles more susceptible to pulling.
Enter, the track suit! Start your warm-up in longer layers and only start to shed them for cooler clothing after you have done the warm-up. Warm muscles are less likely to experience pulling and will perform better.
AH, SAUNA TIME!
In the winter time hit the dry sauna before going to lift weights at the gym or taking a fitness class. The extreme cold of outside will make it more difficult to warm up, so sit in there for a few minutes to help you transition into a safer workout with hot muscles.
HEAT OR ICE?
If you are experiencing chronic injuries like tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, or pulled muscles then heat is going to be really important in your recovery. Unless you have an acute sprain (which requires ice to bring down the immediate swelling), keeping the injured part warm will be much more effective for your recovery.