Spring is almost here and I am extremely excited for the temperatures to warm up. I made it through my first Bellingham winter and I have got to say it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Maybe that's because I have met so many wonderful people here and feel like a part of the community. Maybe because I moved from a city that gets 100" of snow per year and I'm enjoying the lack of it here. Regardless, I am glad it's over and very grateful for warmer days and more sunshine ahead! When I start looking forward to warmer temperatures on the way, it's funny how my mind goes right past Spring and straight to Summer. I get so excited about Summer that I would jump straight over Spring if I could. Forget the slow build-up of Spring warmth and go right to the fun times of Summer, right? Anybody else with me?
Well, wish as we might, there's a reason nature follows this pattern of warming-up to the hottest days of summer, and we can't skip it. However, the problem is that a lot of us take this "get to the chase" mindset into areas of our lives which we do control, namely our fitness and leisure activities. We are so ready to go and get hitting, playing, lifting, that we totally skip over the appropriate build-up to it. Jumping right into the brunt of physical activity can have several negative effects on our performance or even cause injury. Just like Spring is the build-up to the greatness of Summer, a warmup is the proper precursor to a great hitting session, workout, or match. It is a massively important factor for both sports performance and injury prevention because muscles work safer and more effectively when they are warm. Even starting with a rally from the baseline can be a negative strain on a cold body. Before you head out to the court or over to the weight stack, get your blood flowing and your internal temperature up!
A simple 7-10 minutes of cardio warm-up will do wonders for your performance. What a huge benefit to have a gym next to the courts! Get your whole body warm using some cardio equipment, then start moving all of the joints that you will be using during your workout. Try some leg swings, high knees, and arm circles. Playing outside? Go for a quick power walk or light jog around the park or courts. Your muscles and joints will thank you for it, and you will likely perform better when you get out on the courts. So, as Bellingham enters its great warmup season, I hope we can be present and appreciate it, and may it remind you to do the same.