'Couch To 5K Mentality' Means People Skip Warm Ups – Here's Why They Matter

Focusing on distance instead of prep is causing injuries, says surgeon.
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There’s been an “influx” of Brits injuring their knees because we’ve ditched warm ups in our hurry to get fit, a top surgeon has said.

Amir Qureshi, a consultant knee and limb reconstruction surgeon at University Hospital Southampton, said warm ups are not seen as “socially acceptable” anymore and said “the couch to 5K mentality” was partly to blame.

“I firmly believe we need a wholesale change in mindset when it comes to injury prevention in amateur and recreational sport as there is a growing belief you can go from nothing to all-out activity with no consequence,” he said.

“That has manifested itself further over recent years with what I call the ‘couch to 5k mentality’ among those looking to get back into physical activity and get fit or play amateur sport with little to no preparation.”

Qureshi said there is a tendency among Brits to skip warm up routines and muscle conditioning exercises and concentrate on distance, “whereas preparation and gradually increasing activity is where the focus should be”.

He said doing a simple warm up routine can reduce the incidence of an anterior cruciate ligament injury (one of the most common knee injuries) by up to 70%.

How To Warm Up

HuffPost UK previously asked personal trainers how warmups work and what makes a good routine. A good warm up should start with a movement that increases your heart rate, for example, marching on the spot or completing star jumps.

“The heart rate will start to slowly rise and you will find yourself getting slightly breathless,” Tommy Wanless, master trainer at Speedflex said. “You will feel the muscles starting to loosen off and will find your range of movement will become increasingly better as the muscles begin to warm.”

By warming up you’re preparing the body for the more intense movement that follows during your workout. Once your heart rate is up, Fiona Crossley, F45 Kingston co-founder and personal trainer, recommended completing the following exercises to tackle injury-prone areas.

1. Lower back warm-up – lie on the floor, shoulders pressed to the ground, bend the knees and then rock the lower body side to side.

2. Hamstring warm-up – stand straight, arms outstretched to the side for balance, lift one leg and swing it forward and up, repeat several times on each side.

3. Shoulder warm-up – get into a strong plank position with straight arms. Perform alternate shoulder rotations in which you support yourself on one arm while the other arm is swung in a wide arc as if you were swimming.