Wednesday, May 19
Warm-up is not so hard...
... to understand, that is.
But according to a new article in the New York Times by Gina Kolata you'd think we didn't have a clue.
She gives the impression that no one knows how or why to warm-up, stating: "In a recent review article she [Fradkin] wrote, “Many of the earlier studies were poorly controlled, contained few study participants and often omitted statistical analysis.”
"The studies were of so little value, she concluded, that “it is not known whether warming up is of benefit, of potential harm, or having no effect on an individual’s performance.” "
If you go to the study, what the researcher Andrea Fradkin said there was: "Warm-up was shown to improve performance in 79% of the criterions (sic) examined."
As usual after reading a NYT piece on anything exercise-related, I'm left wondering what their masses of editors and fact-checkers do all day. Maybe they're told to close their eyes and let their contributors' non-stories through "as is".
Two good reasons for warming-up that all runners know but that the NYT chose not to mention are:
1. Neuromuscular activation - ie to "switch on" muscle firing - this is nothing to do with muscles being "warm" or not.
2. Cardiovascular (ie why we do some sort of "threshold" burst before a race) ... because we want to be into our "second wind" from the start of a race.
We might also add 3 and 4:
3: It is also a mental/emotional focusing ritual and
4. As the brain runs on lactate, not glucose, while racing - it needs to be "primed" - an effective warm-up switches on the energy systems we need for racing. (OK, that's one of my own theories, I admit it - but it IS evidence-based.)
I suspect Gina K and the NYT have already done a story saying there's no evidence that stretching does you any good. If not, watch out for it.