Warming up routines are significant in physical activity and running is no different. There are multi-faceted reasons that explain the importance of a good warm up before races and quick runs. A good warm up helps the body prepare itself for physical activity and thus increases the efficiency and chances to get injured.
Let’s delve deep into understanding why warm-ups are important and how to do them, so you can imbibe the maximum benefit from your runs and competitive races.
Why is a good warm up routine important?
1. Injury reduction and prevention
Warming up the muscle groups before a hardcore exercise is like heating an engine before you set sail.
The body will warm up with a good flow of blood through joints, ligaments, tendons which will essentially wake up the body and get it ready fr the workout. It is a no-brainer that running is a high intensity exercise. The right warm-up will make sure that the potential for injury is reduced and prevention is adequately done. The risk of muscle strains, muscle pulls and even ankle twists happen when your body isn’t ready for h said activity. So make sure that you have a regular warm-up routine before running off the tracks.
2. Enhances the performance
Think of a situation when you were all sluggish but started to do a slightly elevated movement and how you suddenly start feeling better as the exercise progresses. It is the same situation with the warm-up. When you start with a routine for warming up, the core body temperature of your body rises up, pumps more oxygen around and the blood supply is clear. This gets your body to the initial firing stage where you could then ignite by starting to run. The performance of the body dramatically increases with the light warm-up you do at the beginning. So the key to a rhythmic running pace and power is the warming up of the body.
3. Fight offs the nerves
Warm ups will help the body physically and mentally prepare for the workout that lies ahead. It is human nature to anticipate and feel anxious about things that are unknown to us. So a regularly scheduled warm up routine could help your body fight off all the nerves and prepare itself for a super intensified running experience rather than shocking the system with sudden actions. Creating that similar feeling helps in establishing a habit that you cherish and do not dread.
How to warm up your body?
Running warm-ups are essential to loosen down the muscles, joints, bones along with rhythmically increasing the heart rate. This is what prepares you for a good running pace and completes the run with less exhilaration. So let us see how you can achieve this.
1. Short walks
Walking is often underrated by runners but proves to be one of the most effective ways to warm up the body before the run. It could essentially be seen as a low intensity activity that uses the same muscle groups as running does. Running coaches encourage the runners to walk for 3-5 minutes as it brings in heat to the muscles, core and even out the blood flow through the body. It mentally prepares the body for the cardiovascular activity that running is. It is also established as an effective exercise for runners who are recuperating from injuries.
2. Add small circuits of strides
Strides are essentially like a drill where you run short distances but with explosive form. So you could incorporate this in the warm up schedule as it will pump blood into the muscle groups and fibers and help the body smoothly transition from the walking to running mode. You should choose a place with a flat surface and start with short steps but great form, swinging the arms for more power. You could gradually increase the speed of the stride and complete 4-5 laps. This will very easily help your body get to running form.
3. Add dynamic stretching
The idea of stretching usually gives the general rule of cool down, but there is a different form of stretching. The static stretching is where you hold on to a muscle and hold the position for some minutes, whereas dynamic stretches make use of movements of leg muscles in a controlled fashion, to increase the flexibility and blood flow throughout. There are different dynamic stretches that you could follow.
- Skipping: This is a great exercise to pump the heart up and to increase the range of motion overall.
- Sidestep: these are a simple way of stepping on either side with longer strides, you can eventually start jogging a bit for increasing the intensity.
- Back jog: as the name suggests, you could jog back, but be sure to be very light on the legs and use the arm strides for more power.
- Butt Kicks: This is similar to the motion of running but stationary with pushing your heels towards the butt to engage the glutes.
- Lunges: This exercise helps stretch out the thigh muscles and glutes which are the major muscle groups used while running. You can use an alternate leg and low down the body, using the rear leg to bring the forward leg back after the movement.
These are the different ways to warm up your body before the run. It is highly tempting when you start to just go for the run immediately, but a scheduled warm up will shift your body’s perspective rhythmically and help in transitioning by avoiding any potential injury.