Many runners will head straight home from the office, pulling on their running gear and hit the tarmac, going from a sedentary 8 hours or more sitting at the desk straight into their evening run without so much as a brisk walk to wake up the muscles first.
Warming up before running is essential not only to reduce risk of injury but also to help maximise our training session so that we can work harder, for longer.
A good warm up should aim to prepare the body for exercise; it needs to be dynamic, cardiovascular and involve some balance or control work.
This means loosening up the joints and waking up the muscles that we are going to be using in sport.
Aim to do 30 secs – 1 min of each exercise.
Examples of dynamic exercises to add to your warm up include heel raises, knee raises, heel flicks and trunk rotations.
By gradually increasing our heart rate and breathing rate we are pumping more blood and therefore more oxygen to our muscles to fuel them for the aerobic demands of our sport.
Examples can include:
- Brisk walk 1-2mins
- Jog 1-2 mins
- 5 x 100m ‘pick-ups’ – short bursts of increasing pace with 60secs rest in between
Exercises that stimulate our balance receptors to help prevent ligament sprains. Aim to do 20 of each exercise on both legs, for example walking lunges or side shuffles.
Note: Static stretching is not recommended prior to exercise as it reduces the force output of our muscles and delays the activity of our balance receptors – actually making injury risk higher and performance lower. However it’s great to do these static stretches after running to cool down and prevent muscle soreness the next day.