VR technology may boot up instantly but if you try to do the same with your body you won’t be at your best and you’ll be one move away from an injury. When it comes to warming up, the body needs time and it needs to do a few essential things to perform at its peak. Here’s why you need to warm-up before VR exercise and the best way to do it.
Technology has advanced at an incredibly rapid pace, much faster than your body. Strapping on a headset and disappearing into a virtual world only takes seconds. Preparing to exercise takes a few more seconds than that. To give this some perspective, compare your body to dial-up internet, you know the internet that used your phone line and made that horrible screeching noise? Better yet compare it to the old fashioned telegram because the body really hasn’t changed much in thousands of years compared to technology. The body used to be constantly moving because of our hunter gatherer lifestyle, so naturally we were ready to spring into action. The advent of the desk chair now keeps your body folded like a laptop most of the day. Being hunched over means your hips and shoulders will get chronically tight limiting your ability to move and increasing your chance of injury.
VR Warm UP Step 1: Active Stretches
The solution is to stretch. How you’re stretching matters, a lot. To prepare your body for movement, making it limber and ready to morph into any VR world requires active stretches. An active stretch just means that you’re doing a stretch where you move instead of hold one position. For example, holding onto a wall and swinging your leg is an active stretch. Bending down and trying to touch your toes is not. Swinging your arms in circles or around your body like Michael Phelps are active stretches. Lifting your elbow above your head and holding it is not. You get the idea. As unpredictable as VR games are, warm-ups are much more calculated. Here’s a quick warm-up you can do that will prepare your body to move and blast through levels in your VR game:
- Forward and Back Leg Swings, 30 seconds each side
- Side to Side Leg Swings, 30 seconds each side
- Arm Circles, 30 seconds
- Alternating Lunge with a Reach, 45 Seconds
- Squat and Reach, 30 seconds
VR Warm Up Step 2: Low Intensity Moves
By now we all know we have to walk before we run, but the rule for jumping is different: Squat before you jump. After the active stretches, the body is ready to move, but not ready to go full force jumping around. If you’ve played VR games, you know you’re guaranteed to be moving quickly, hopping, jumping, lunging and squatting. Those are all great ways to get your heart rate up without even realizing it. They’re also ways to get hurt, unless you’re prepared for those moves. For the next part of your warm-up you want to try and mimic the moves you do in the game but at a lower intensity or slower tempo. It’s the same idea as working out at the gym, you do a few sets with lightweight before you use the heavy weight. Follow this quick set of active moves to prime up your body:
- Bodyweight Squats, 10 reps
- Alternating Lunges, 10 reps each side
- Lateral Lunges, 10 reps each side
- Jumping Jacks, 30 seconds
VR Warm Up Step 3: Conquer Your VR World
That’s all there is to it. A few active stretches and bodyweight exercises is all you need to prime your body for the VR workout you’re in line for before you get your HMD on. Don’t be surprised if you start performing better in your VR games, because you will. Warming up won’t just improve your VR performance, it will prepare your body to move dynamically. Preparation is key to preventing injuries like muscle pulls that could sideline your VR experience. Take the 5 minutes to warm-up then conquer your VR world!