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Why Warm Muscles Are Safer

Hello everyone,

Now that it is getting warmer out, we are all ready to get outside and start working around the house, exercising, or playing sports. Here is just a bit of information on why warm muscles are safer than cold ones.

First let's define warm and cold muscles. Obviously, warm muscles feel warm, and cold ones don't, but why. Blood flow is the answer. Warm muscles are warm because they have an increase in blood flow, and that come from using them. So warming up before exercising is just that, getting warm because of increased blood flow. But what does that do to the muscles, and why does that make them safer?

Think of muscles like a sponge. Cold muscle, with less blood flow, are like a dry sponge, and when you try to stretch a dry sponge it will more thank likely tear. And this is what happens when you use muscles to hard that are cold. Now, think about a wet sponge. When you stretch a wet sponge, it will stretch without tearing. This is similar to warm muscles, because the increased blood flow that makes them warm, makes them more elastic and therefore able to withstand the stretching, as well as the harder contraction forces.

This is why "warming up" before exercise and staying warm with the proper clothing while we work and exercise in the colder weather or spring is a very smart idea, and can avoid unnecessary muscle injury.

So think about this, is stretching cold muscles a smart idea as a way to warm up? Of course, no. Stretching cold muscles is the worst thing you could do, as the risk of tearing them is high. Warming up means increasing blood flow, so anything to simply increase your heart rate is great. For example, jumping jacks and jogging are great ways to warm up, and then stretch after you are warm.

Hope that this makes sense and that it helps some you avoid some muscle injury.

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Mckim


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