With the temperatures dropping to winter levels, the need to warm up your body ready for a paddle is more important than usual. Climbing into your extra layers may seem like a warm up, but there is more to a warm up than this. It is your body’s chance to prepare itself for the exercise it is about to carry out. What does a warm up do? Aside getting your body ready for exercise it helps to prevent injury and gets you into the mental space. From relaxed to pumped up and ready to go, a warm up will get you there. Think of your warm up as a good starter, getting you ready for the main course of paddling.
You may think you are only going for a cruise up the canal. But you still need to prepare your body for any level of exercise. Here are some top tips for getting yourself warmed up and ready to paddle.
- Get your blood flowing – Start off with a quick exercise that increases your heart rate and gets you breathing. A quick run on the spot, star jumps, or anything else that just gets you moving. When paddling with a group you could make it into a fun game.
- Stretch muscles – Stretching is a critical part of the warm up, but it’s not THE warm up. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that doing a few stretches constitutes a warm up. Think about the muscles you are going to use paddling and concentrate on them. Often some yoga poses make for brilliant stretches.
- Awareness of the body – As you run through your warm up make sure you take the time to become aware of how your body is feeling. Any aches and pains, any muscles feeling particularly strong, and muscles feeling tight. You can then adapt your warm up to focus on what your body is needing. Or adapt your paddle to account for this.
- Increases core temperature – This is mostly important through the colder months. Your warm up is your first chance to increase your core body temperature. This means you will stay warmer on the water for longer.
- Psychologically ready for exercise – your warm up should also get you in the right mind frame for the paddle you are about to undertake. You can be mentally prepared, as well as physically, with a number sport specific movements and games.
- Time taken – How long you spend on your warm up is entirely dependent on the exercise you are going to do. You will need less of a warm up for a more relaxed paddle. 10 minutes is the minimum recommended length, but it should last as long as it needs to get your body ready.
Once warmed up properly you can venture out on a paddle that is great fun. And you won’t have to without worry about aches or pulling a muscle slowing you down. Then as you finish your paddle have a think about a cool down, especially if you have been on a long paddle. Some simple stretches, focusing on all the muscle groups you have just used, helps prevent any soreness the following day. If you wear the right kit for paddling in winter, then you are all set for a fantastic paddles through the winter.