Why Warming-Up Matters
Running before warming-up is like driving a car on a cold engine. Easy enough to do but can result in an inefficient or potentially harmful experience. Our muscles are elastic, so gradually loosening them helps our body become pliable before activity. A sufficient warm-up primes your muscles and can help improve performance. Certain exercises, like running, particularly benefit from a meaningful warm-up. In addition to enhanced physical performance, warming up before a run can reduce your susceptibility to injury and limit the chance of spasms or cramps.
When performing any cardiovascular exercise, it is essential to warm-up your heart. Failure to do so can cause unnecessary stress on your heart and other muscles. Conversely, a simple warm-up improves blood flow and oxygen efficiency, leading to accelerated muscle contraction and relaxation, and can help prevent injuries. Ultimately, an adequate warm-up is well worth your time optimizing your run –and your body will also thank you for it.
How to Warm-Up
Not all warm-ups are equally effective. Static stretching is holding a stretch in a specific position for a set time. A common misconception claims static stretching before workouts is the most effective technique. While this form of stretching supports flexibility, it lacks the boost in heart rate and blood flow that readies our body for a workout. Conversely, static stretching has proven to be more effective after activity to maintain flexibility and reduce pain the following day.
On the other hand, dynamic warm-ups are considered the gold standard due to their up-tempo movements to prepare your muscles and heart for activity. Sport-specific dynamic warm-ups target the muscles you will be using during the workout and increase your heart rate and blood flow to them. This has been proven to enhance agility, speed, and overall performance. Various active mobility exercises can get your body moving through a full range of motion to prepare you best.
Free Running Warm-Up Guide!
Check out the attached video for a dynamic warm-up before running. This warm-up consists of straight-leg marches, hip openers, jumping jacks, high knees, and butt kickers. These high-tempo movements strategically loosen muscles you will utilize while running and are excellent for increasing heart rate and blood flow. Additionally, the corresponding graphic demonstrates stretching while in motion movements that can be incorporated into your dynamic warm-up routine. Happy running! 😊
As you kick off your run, make sure to ease into it at a comfortable warm-up pace. Starting nice and easy will allow your body to naturally increase speed and maximize your stored energy. Beginning too fast can lead to increased energy expenditure and limit your performance. Here’s to making the most of our workouts!