It's important to incorporate a warm up into your running routine, however few of us do it. A simple 5-10 minute sport specific warm up can help prep your muscles, increase your blood flow and body temperature, mobilize your joints, and prevent injury.
It's really important to warm up in a style that mimics your activity. For example, how many of us have seen someone jump on the bike at the gym before training their upper body? Although better than nothing, the muscles being warmed up are not the muscles being trained. Warm ups should be sport specific and target the muscle groups required for performance.
The other question that arises with warm ups is whether or not stretches should be included. Is it useful to stretch out your hamstrings before a run? Or is it better afterwards? Are dynamic movements better or stretches with long holds? In this blog we will discuss the difference between a dynamic and static warm ups, when to incorporate stretches, while also giving you targeted exercises you can incorporate into your running routine.
Dynamic vs. Static Warm Up
A static warm up or stretches involves moving a joint or muscle as far as it will go and holding for a period of time, usually around 20-30 seconds. You'll typically see runners doing a hamstring or quadriceps stretch prior to their run. Although great at increasing muscle length, these exercises typically only move a joint in one range of motion and are not always sport specific. There is also the issue of relaxing the muscles rather than warming it up. We don't want muscles to be in relaxed state prior to exercise, we need them to perform. It is more beneficial to include static stretches as part of a cool down rather than a warm up. So save your hamstring
and quadricep stretches until after the run, your legs
will thank you.
So if stretches are not the best way to warm up, what is? The best way to warm up prior to running is by using dynamic stretches and mobility work. A dynamic warm up consists of actively moving joints and muscles with sport specific motions. This would include things like high knee, hip hurdles, walking lunges etc. With running we want to focus on movements that target the hips, knees, ankles, and a bit of spinal rotation. These movements will get your blood pumping, increase your body temperature, while prepping your muscles and joints for activity.
Running Warm Up Exercises
Each of the following exercises focuses on a muscle and joint specific to running. These exercises should be completed for approximately 30 seconds, or 10-12 repetitions prior to starting your run.
1. Knee to Chest
Pull your knee to your chest, while alternating left and right side.
This will increase your hip flexion range of motion
2. Hip Hurdles
Lift your leg up and over like you are jumping over a hurdle.
This is a great hip opener exercise.
3. Hamstring Swings
Complete hamstring swings with alternating legs.
Swing one leg forward reaching with your opposite arm.
This exercise focuses on your hips and spinal rotation.
4. High Knees
Do quick high knees, prepping your hip flexors and calves for
5. Butt Kicks
Do quick heel to bum movements, prepping your glutes,
hamstrings and calves for running
Try incorporating a slow paced jog for 5 minutes after the completion of the above exercises. It's a simple way to round out a warm up and ease your body into a run. After that, you are ready to go!
If you'd like to learn more about how to do a proper warm up or have questions about what would work best for you, book an appointment with any of our knowledgeable physiotherapists today! You can call our clinic at 604-553-1203 or book online by clicking here.