STEP 1 of Modern Rehab’s Plan to PERMANENT Healing:
Performing an aerobic warm up to increase intramuscular temperature.
At the beginning of a Modern Rehab PT session, we like to have our patients start with 10 minutes of either walking on the treadmill, riding on the stationary bike, or pedaling on the UBE (arm bike). We make this decision based on what area of the body we want to warm up most. Hot packs, even though they feel good, actually heat up the skin far more than the underlying muscle tissue. An aerobic warm up on the other hand, directly increases the temperature of the muscle, by elevating the tissue’s metabolism.
Simply put, when we start with light exercise, we warm the muscles from the inside-out, instead of trying to warm them from the outside-in. Muscles are on the inside of our bodies after all, so we think this approach makes more sense.
So why are we trying to increase the temperate of muscle in the first place? The benefits we focus on are two-fold.
Firstly, it increases blood flow to the muscles, connective tissue, and joints being used. This mobilized more oxygen and nutrients to the tissues to maximize the benefits of the therapeutic exercise and manual therapy that may come next.
Secondly, increased muscle temperature promotes better tissue extensibility. What is tissue extensibility? Our favorite way to explain it uses the example of freshly cooked spaghetti,. Think about how each spaghetti strand glides past each other with ease when it’s warm. Now think of the same batch of spaghetti after it has been sitting in the fridge for a few hours. Once it’s cold, it sticks together in a big mess. In this very particular way, human muscles are oddly similar to spaghetti! The individual muscle fibers that must glide past each other during a muscle contraction, do so much more effectively when they are warm. Once optimal tissue extensibility is achieved
So there you have it! These are the main reasons that Modern Rehab believes an aerobic warmup is the best way to start a PT session. Feel free to ask any questions in the comment section below, and be sure to tune in for STEP 2 of Modern Rehab’s Plan to Permanent Healing!