Warming up is an essential part of any exercise plan. Running on cold muscles can lead to injuries which will only mean long injury recovery times with no training.
So often I see warm-ups that are too demanding, leaving you tired before a race has even begun. The point is to nicely get the blood flowing through the body, get the muscle, ligaments and tendons used to impact and movement – all done in order to avoid strain and tears from the body not being sufficiently warmed up for running.
Your warm-up should consist of some movement along with stretching. Personally I like to start with light runs for about two minutes, building them up to a faster pace, but not sprinting.
Exercises such as jumping jacks are also a great way to warm up, while dynamic stretching will also help stretch the muscles to get a better range of movement. Unlike traditional stretching for after your run (which we will talk about next week), the end movement in the stretch is not held. Dynamic stretches can be done with a variety of movements and are great not just for run or sprint warms-ups but also for strength training, athletics and any active sport.
The important thing about dynamic stretching is not to launch straight in. I would always advise a light run warm-up first.
You may not feel that you need such a range of motion, but dynamic stretching can prepare you for that unexpected jump or sudden movement that you may encounter. We have all tried to avoid that large puddle and ended up pulling a muscle.
There are many variations of dynamic stretches from knee-ups to butt-kicks, but three to four stretches after a light run will warm that body up nicely.
Fit Moves Part 2: Running
1/ Start by standing upright with your feet together and your arms by your sides.
2/ Jump up and split your feet out to the sides. At the same time swing your arms to the side and overhead. Simply reverse the motion and repeat.
1/ Stand upright with your feet split front to back. Lower your body towards the floor, bending at the hips and knees.
2/ Push off the front foot and jump up off the floor. Land in a split squat and quickly repeat.
Start with your legs spread shoulder-width apart. Keep one foot pointing forwards and the other pointing out. Lean to the side and bend the knee on the side so that the toes point outwards and make sure you keep the other knee straight. Go as low as you need until you feel a slight burn on your bent knee leg and a nice stretch going down from the groin to the lower leg on your straight leg. You can either hold for five seconds on each, or you can change position side to side without holding for the five seconds.