Windsurfing warm-up: get those muscles ready for shakas | Photo: Carter/PWA World Tour

Warming up improves muscle reaction time, as it increases both the speed and the force of muscle contractions. Windsurfer and health promoter Henrik Beyer leaves us a few simple, yet effective exercises.

This is especially valuable for windsurfers as they constantly manage sudden movements and unexpected situations as well as occasional wipeouts that are natural parts of sailing.

"Improved muscle reaction time may be crucial for performance when little stands between success and failure when windsurfing," underlines Henrik Beyer, author of "Health & Fitness for Windsurfing."

Warming up also increases muscle temperature and decreases friction in the muscles making them more resistant to force and tension. Even though the word is still out whether warming up prevents injury, it is likely that these effects prevent muscle injuries and will make you a better sailor.

Just rigging your sail might not be enough to get you warmed up. Try experimenting with different body-weight exercises or mobility drills to find your favorite warm-up routine. For example:

Light-moderate jogging (2 minutes);
Arm rotations (5 reps arm/direction);
Squats (5-10 reps);
Push-ups (5-10 reps);

"There is no magic formula to warming up, but research has shown that it might be good to emulate the actual movements of the planned activity. Create your own favorite warm up and always consider your particular physical needs and weaknesses," adds Beyer.

Remember if you want to include stretching exercises into your warm-up routine, please perform them in a gentle and controlled fashion. All-out stretching should only be performed when the muscles are warmed-up. Stretching cold muscles may lead to tear.

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