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Race Season has Arrived

Runners everywhere are taking to the streets logging their miles in order to get ready for upcoming races.  But have you been warming up properly?

If you haven’t been warming up at all, or just do a few static stretches you may be doing more harm than good.

Warming up properly can be the difference between getting you to the starting line of upcoming races like the Banks Linear Trail Brave Run and The Helvetia Half or sitting on the sideline with an injury.  Don’t get benched with an injury you could have prevented by doing a proper warm up and cool down.  

Read on to learn the many benefits to warming up prior to a run, and how to incorporate a proper warm up into your pre-race routine (any exercise routine).

Benefits to warming up prior to a run:

1. Increased body temperature –

Your warm up helps improve metabolic processes that supply energy to the muscles. It also helps the muscles prepare for the demands of the impending run.

2. Enhanced muscle performance –

Increased muscle temperature reduces the muscles’ level of stiffness which allows them to contract stronger and faster with added efficiency.

3. Improved cardiac function –

Your warm up improves your heart’s ability to pump blood through your blood vessels. Your lungs also increase their respiratory rate which allows for increased oxygen uptake and delivery to red blood cells that then travel to the working muscles.

4. Improved joint function –

Your warm up leads to short-term increase in joint cartilage thickness which allows for better weight distribution and absorption of ground reaction forces. Also the tendons of muscles become more elastic which increases their ability to translate energy to forward propulsion.

5. Injury prevention –

Your warm up helps sharpen your awareness so you can react to a fallen tree or bump in the road. Warm ups also improve the elasticity of your tendons/muscles so that they can respond to a push pace or final “kick” without excessive strain which can cause injury.

 

Warm up prior to your run should include:

1. Start with 3-5 minutes of brisk walking on level ground.

2. Then use a dynamic warm up that moves the spine, hips, knees, and ankles through available motion.

Go through the following exercise sequence at a brisk walking pace. Then, repeat the sequence at a skip for added warm up and cardiac involvement. You should perform each movement for 15-20 feet or 15-20 paces as space allows.

High Knee March

Butt Kick

Crossover March

Straight Leg Kick

March + Hip External Rotation

March + Hip Internal Rotation

4-Step Carioca / Grapevine

What NOT to do:

It is NOT recommended to perform static/holding stretches prior to a run because this reduces the elasticity of a person’s muscles/tendons which can worsen performance during the run.

*These stretches should be saved after the run as part of your cool down.

For more ways to improve your run performance check out The Biggest Myths Runners Tell Themselves about Strength Training for runners.