When we ask runners how they warm-up to run, we often get the same response: “I run… slowly… and then faster.”
This deep into the running season and with more intense races still coming, one of the most important things a runner can do is warm-up properly.
Warming-Up is Important
Warming-up energizes the nervous system. It sends a message to your body that you’re headed for a run. It also prepares your muscles, tendons, bones, and sensory system for the impact they are about to experience. Much like warming-up a shower before jumping in, a good warm-up can provide a much more comfortable experience.
Many runners feel the need to static stretch prior to running, but with a static stretch, your body gets the message to relax. It also lengthens your musculature. In reality, a bit of muscle stiffness can be good for running performance. Instead of performing static stretches, perform a dynamic warm-up. It will help our body prepare to move.
A Good Warm-Up has Two Things
A good warm-up includes two major components:
1. Dynamic stretching
2. A series of low-level plyometrics to stimulate your musculature.
Use These Warm-Ups Next Time you Run
Try these warm-ups before your next run to optimize performance and reduce your risk for muscle strains and overuse injuries:
Rotational Calf Stretch
In a calf stretch position, rotate your body around the back foot.
Stand tall and swing your leg maximal in front and back. Keep your stomach tight on the way back.
Walking Hamstring Stretch
Get into a lunge position and then lift your hips as high as possible.
Rotational Lunge Walk
Walking lunge with maximal trunk rotation over the front leg.
Forward and Backward Skips
Perform 2 laps (10 yards) or skips. Down forward, back backward.
Perform 2 laps of side shuffles with big arm swings.
Perform 2 laps of carioca. Keep your upper body still and rotate your hips maximally forward and backward.
Work these into every pre-run routine and make them a habit, a ritual. First you’ll benefit from moving, but eventually, your body will recognize the cues better and all your running systems will start to engage just by performing this simple warm-up.