Do this everyday if you aren’t a teen anymore…

In retrospect, I think I was the most ‘free’ when I was a teenager. Life in general was so much less stressful. I just didn’t have a care in the world. The pressures of school were negligible compared to what my own 9-year old goes through.

I was super-active not only in sports and in general as well. My routine was pretty simple — I change up and get right into the action. Regardless of the sport I was playing (cricket, soccer or hockey). And I think I haven’t changed much, which I now believe is the biggest challenge for people of my age (34) — we bring along the habits we developed ‘back then,’ hoping things will be just fine. They are not.

Physically speaking, our bodies have matured and are well past our ‘developmental stage.’ Particularly our joints and bones. They stop getting stronger unless you’re engaged in regular physical activities such as weight or strength training and/or sports. Let me give you a made-up stat that may make sense:

  1. 50% of the population in our demography (25-35) don’t bother to get exercise. Because they’ve never struggled with weight-related issue since they were teens… so they don’t bother. Thankfully, this bit is getting better.
  2. 25% go to the gym don’t take it seriously enough to reap benefits from the time they’re spending in the gym. And some of them have pathetic trainers. But that’s an argument for some other day.
  3. 20% of them do it seriously. Not exactly like an athlete but they’re serious about their goals.
  4. The remaining 5% train like an athlete. So much so that people around them mistake them for an athlete!
  5. Of the above 5% there’s 1% who never warm-up or cool down after exercise. Because they never did…

I belong to that 1% who never warms-up. And I’ve come to change my thoughts on why warming-up and cooling down are a time investment for anyone seeking physical fitness over the long-term.

Ideally, one should stock at least 60 to 90 minutes for an entire training session. I don’t think you can’t get everything done in 60 minutes. Here’s a breakdown for an ideal session:

  1. Warm-up & mobility drills: 20-25 minutes
  2. Training: 45 to 60 minutes
  3. Cool down: 10-15 minutes

Total time: 75 to 100 minutes

I know you don’t have a lot of time for this and would rather get the ‘real’ thing done than warming up or cooling down. I get it. And I used to belong to the same school of thought. Not anymore. The share of sprains, pains and aches I’ve had over the past couple of years have made me believe that I need to mobilise and stretch myself more to be able to stay active for the rest of my life.

Not doing so has caused me a lot more injuries than overtraining, bad form or ego lifting (and I NEVER ego lift). And that’s precisely why I recommend everyone to develop a warm-up/mobility routine and stretching routine. They’re both highly individualised and require a lot of thought. Of course, you have the option to start off with a cookie-cutter program and optimise as you go along.

On your non-training days, do these regardless for additional practice, suppleness and faster recovery. If you’re thinking that’s more work on a non-training day, my response would be — “it’s just 2- minutes that done well can add years to your life.” Also, this is exactly what experts the call “active recovery.”

Yes, you can take a day or two off a week but I’d rather move than not do anything else. If you haven’t ever been injured, you won’t know the important of just being able to do a proper ‘movement.’ It’s priceless.

I know, I know, it’s not a magic pill and you probably knew all this. But I believe these drills should be done daily. They’re totally worth your time investment, particularly if you believe a life of pain free movement is a worthy goal.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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