Studies and researches reveal that hitting the road for running without a proper warm-up would tend to tire your body up much before than it would otherwise. A proper warm-up would enable you to run for an extended time frame and you would be able to cover up more miles. A proper warm-up is the spice for proper running gait and it prevents you from injuries and setbacks. Of course setting up a proper warm-up time and routine would take some time but it would prepare your body for challenges of moving at varied speed levels.
Why Warm-Up is Important?
There is always risk of injury if you begin too fast such as pulling a muscle, tweaking of a bone, twist of a joint or more. Such injuries would keep you from sustaining a proper speed and you would end up slowing down sooner. Not only that but you would face fatigue and disappointment and you will be less motivated for your next running routine.
A proper warm-up would loosen up your muscles, joints and bones. It would at the same time increase your heart rate smoothly so that it easily reaches a pace with which you can run and accomplish your goals. You will feel more energized and successful routine would further motivate you for your next workout. You will be persuaded to excel in your next routine.
Elements of a Smart Warm-Up Plan:
Before you begin your running routine, your muscles need some warm-up exercises. These warm-up exercises should not only focus on your lower body but should be working on your upper body muscles too. A combination of walk, some light exercises and dynamic stretches can help you prepare for running.
Usually a good warm-up plan has two essential elements including general and specific. General would enhance your body temperature and would loosen up your muscles so that they are prepared for running and relaxing smoothly. While a specific warm-up would include working on neuromuscular activation thus preparing your body to run a race or perform a specific workout.
General Warm-Up: Begin your general warm-up with a light routine of some minutes of jogging in place.
Specific Warm-Up: After jogging some time should be spent specifically targeting on major muscles and joints with repeated movements. Although make sure that these movements are gentle and not vigorous.
Steps for Proper Warm-Up before Run:
- Begin with a Walk: Warm-up is not supposed to be vigorous so begin with a gentle walk for a few minutes (3-4 minutes). This would prove to be a low-intensity workout that would ease up muscles and joints of your body and would drift them in to a mode of workout. It will bring your temperature up and would increase flow of blood too. A light walk would prepare your brain for running.
- Light Aerobics to Follow: This light walk could be followed by a 5 minutes light aerobics. Here you can begin with slow jogging, cycling, walking quickly or other light exercises. These exercises shouldn’t be rushed rather you should focus on gradually increasing your speed with proper breathing.
- Some Strides: Next recruit your body muscles to a faster switch for running mode by doing 4-5 100 meter strides/pick-ups. Just make sure that you smoothly accelerate distance. Do one stride and then shake out your legs for half a minute and then stride in an opposite direction. Do not over stride or you may face an injury.
- Stretches: After strides, you can do some light yet dynamic stretching in order to further loosen up your muscles and improving your motion range. Your heart rate, flow and body temperature would also be increased with these dynamic stretches.
- Skipping: Skip as per your comfort. Again don’t try to overdo the height and range for skipping. Cover around 25- 40 meters according to your level.
- Shuffle Walk and Jog: Begin with walking at right side covering 10-15 meters and then shift to left to cover another 10-15 meters. As you build up intensity, shift to light jogging. Do this exercise for some minutes.
- Jog Backward: Cover a distance of 20-30 meters with light backward jogging.
Essential Pre-Run Warm-Up Tips:
- Warm-ups are meant to prepare your body for workout or run, thus it should not be tiring. Warm-ups should be done in a relaxed form and you should not be holding your breath. Stay calm with proper breathing during warm-up.
- Never begin warm-ups with stretching exercises because your muscles are cold and thus stretching could result in pain and injuries.
- Do not attempt anything that is painful such as stretching beyond your comfort. As you stretch beyond your limit, you may feel tightness of muscles resulting in resistance and pain. If continue to attempt anything painful during warm-up, you may not be able to perform your run or workout routine.
- While performing warm-up exercises, make sure you focus on both sides of your body.
- Warm-ups should be done at least 5 minutes prior to running.
- Warm-ups before run are essential. Similarly, cool downs are also important. So when you are done with your run, make sure you cool down your body with light walking or jogging for a few minutes.
- After run, you may also do some stretching exercises as your body is already warm and thus stretching would be easier.
A proper warm-up would serve you two main purposes. One, it would prepare you to meet physical demands for your run and two, it would improve dynamics of your muscles thus preventing your body from injuries. Although it is important that you go easy with warm-ups. Don’t lengthen the duration of warm-ups and make sure these exercises are not too much intense. Overdoing it could prove to be counterproductive for run. Just make sure your follow a proper warm-up routine before run and you will be fitter to perform well for running and racing.