Why should you warm up before running?
As a runner what you naturally want to do is run not warm up before running! You want to be on the move. You want to feel your heart pounding and get your feet on the road/trail. The last thing most runners want to do is spend their time warming up before a run but, in reality, it is probably the most important part of your exercise routine if you really see running being a part of your life in the long-run.
Warming up before runs is vital to prevent injury. The aim of most runners is to go faster and avoid injury and a warm up before running is going to help you reach both of those goals.
Is a slow run or walk before you start good enough?
While a slow run or walk can help prepare your body for the run ahead, you should ideally be including other types of exercises in your running warm up.
What kind of running warm up should you be doing?
When most people think of warm ups they think of those runners standing by the edge of the road doing long slow static stretches. Scientific research actually suggests that these static stretches may actually hold you back in improving your running performance. Instead dynamic stretching is being increasingly recommended as a more efficient running warm up. Dynamic stretching involves moving your body repetitively in a similar way to which it will be moving when you start your actual run. Using combinations of lunges, leg swings and even movements while you are on all fours can truly show great results down the line in your running.
The advantages of dynamic stretching in a running warm up
By repeatedly moving your body in a similar way to which it moves while running you are, in essence, waking your brain’s connection up to its muscle and tissues. Known as neuromuscular training, exercising this often neglected part of running will lead to more efficient runs and a better ability to recognise when your body is under stress. Using dynamic stretching instead of static stretching in a warm up significantly decreases your chance of injury.
Check out this video on how to warm up before running…
Static stretching has been associated with reducing the stiffness in legs that is actually needed to absorb energy when your feet touch the ground and then also propel you forward. This stiffness prevents injury.
Various dynamic stretches can be done to focus on specific areas of your run which you need to improve such as ankle strength. It can often help to consult a professional such a physiotherapist if you have had previous injuries because they can help find some dynamic stretches which will decrease the chance of injury again in the same place.
So don’t think of those warm up minutes as an additional extra or even wasted time! A running warm up which includes dynamic stretching will help improve your focus, prepare your muscles for what is ahead of them and decrease your chance of injury.
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