It’s a nice sunny day and you just went through the hardships of the past couple of weeks of chilly rain and want to run. BUT WAIT you have to warm up first! But why and how you ask?
Well, let’s begin with why it's important to warm up. For starters it can improve muscle temperature, and enhance blood flow. This allows for improved speeds of muscle contraction and proper sequencing of muscles that are being used when running. Improper sequencing can lead to poor mechanics when running which can lead to injuries. More importantly the improvement in blood flow and body temperature allow for improved release of oxygen to muscles. This allows for your muscles to create energy sustaining you throughout your run, no matter how long or short.
You maybe now asking yourself “I stretch before my runs. Is this what’s going on when I do my warm ups?” Well if you are using static stretches before your runs you may actually be decreasing the amount of force that your muscles are producing during your run. This can lead to injuries.
Rather, dynamic stretching is the better choice before you run. You should typically reserve at least 15 minutes for your warm up. The reason being is that you should have the proper amount of time in order to work through these movements. Movements that are needed to have the runner work through the necessary range of motion required throughout your running mechanics. Another important note about your warm up, is that you should increase in intensity through without causing fatigue in the muscles to be used.
You are now probably wondering what should my warm up look like? You use a number of joints throughout your run and your body needs to be able to go through an adequate amount of ROM in order to run correctly. The following are the joints we will focus on:
Ankle joint: In order to get your achieve proper toe off during your running motion, then pointing up to avoid tripping! So, we’ll focus on your calf muscles here.
Knee joint: In order to bend and straighten your knee while running to prepare your body to receive the ground forces, prepare your stride length, and propel your legs after toe lift off. The muscles that will be focused on here will be your hamstring and quadriceps
Hip Joint: In order to provide adequate hip mobility while running allowing your hip muscles to lift your knees up when running and providing enough force to push your body forward. The muscle that will be focused on here will be your glutes, hip flexors and adductors.
Watch the video for an example of a warm up you can do before your run that address the three joints above.