The point of a warm up before your workout is to begin working out your joints, muscles and bones before you put them under strain. VR games get intense, so you want to make sure your body is limber before you attack them head on.
A proper warm up helps you avoid muscle strain or injury, which only gets worse the older you get. A good warm up literally warms the blood and increases blood flow to your muscles. Your warm up routine is critical to getting you in shape. It leaves you ready for the workout ahead and helps you wind down afterward.
Before we hit the virtual world we make sure of a few things:
- Charge controllers
- Pick out our games
- Double check that equipment is working properly
Why don’t we do these things with our bodies, arguably the most important controller in VR?
We’ve written pretty extensively about how to keep your space safe for VR. We consider safety a part of the warm up in VR, so you should always plan for about five to ten minutes of basic setup and cleanup. Here’s a quick wrap of what we recommend:
- Clear your space
- Remove items you can trip on
- Secure pets and young children
And here’s our writeup about how to keep your play space safe. If you’ve never read it, be sure to check it out.
Alright, let’s get that blood pumping with some basic stretching. VR tends to be full body, so focus on your shoulders/chest, knees, hips, and calves. Here are a few basic stretches you can use to prepare for a session.
Basic Shoulder Stretch
Cross one arm full across chest, and bring the fist of the other to your elbow. Gently apply pressure with your fist, hold for a few seconds, and then repeat on the other side.
Basic Knee Stretch
First, grasp a chair or wall for balance. This stretch is pretty simple once you’re balanced. All you need to do is bring the heel of your foot towards your buttocks, and then hold your toes. Hold for a few seconds and alternate.
Place your palms flat against the wall, then bend one knee and keep the other leg straight. Try and touch the floor with the heel of the straight leg, then switch.
Alternatively, you may place your toes on the edge of a step, or against the wall, then apply pressure to your heel. Your calf will feel this one
Other Useful Stretches
Don’t stop at these basics. Stretching for a warm up is a good excuse to try out some other useful stretches:
Let’s talk hydration, since water is pretty important to a workout. Hydration helps safeguard against a loss of circulation, and impacts your body temperature. Staying hydrated helps you manage sweat and keeps your muscles limber. As you can imagine, if you’re doing something strenuous it’s a good idea to sip lots of water (taking in about 1-2 oz per sip).
I like my Nalgene for hydration, but it requires me to step out of VR. This is fine in between sets for The Thrill of the Fight, but not so great for longer experiences. Beat Saber or Synth Riders don’t really have great pause functions.
I’ve occasionally loaded up my Camelbak when I want to go hard in VR. I stay hydrated, and I get to carry some water weight which is great for adding resistance to my workout. You can keep it in nearly any backpack you have around the house, but the designed Camelbak trail packs for this purpose as well. As long as you distribute the weight properly, you’ll minimize the chances of injury.
Gym wear is great for any exercise, so part of your warmup should be dressing in stretchy and breathable clothes. Also, don’t forget the sweat cover for your VR visor. You may want to acquire some replacement parts, like a head strap or a few extra foam visor covers. You don’t want an eye piece past its prime to be the reason you couldn’t work out.
Any swiveling fan will do a good job cooling even during summer. Try playing at night during warmer parts of the year, when you can open a window and let in some naturally cooler air. We’re still a little while off from temperature-controlled gym suits, unfortunately.
You warmed up before, so don’t forget to cool down after. Cooling down after your workout involves going through the same motions and exercises you’ve workout out, but at a reduced pace and intensity. If you were playing BoxVR for 35 minutes, your cool down might be your favorite song in Synth Riders or Beat Saber on an easier difficulty. You can also switch games. I love shooters like Serious Sam or Space Pirate Trainer for cool down games.
Don’t forget to stretch the dominant muscle groups you worked out during your exercise as well. You can use some of the same stretches we used in the warm-up phase, but it’s a good idea to try some others out as well.
What does your warm up routine look like in VR?