Every great run starts with a properly performed warm-up routine. So, to master your run, you must warm up correctly before every session. Here’s how to do it.
One of the usual battles between runners is the discussion about whether or not to warm up before a training session. If you ask, many may tell you that this is dispensable and a waste of time, but you should not take it lightly.
Warming up well before training is highly recommended and has many benefits. In this article, I’ll give you some guidelines on how to warm up before you start running.
Also, you need to make sure that you have the right gear like running socks, running shoes, running tops, running shorts, etc.
What’s The Point Of Warming Up?
Warming up consists of doing a series of exercises that will cause your muscle temperature to rise.
The intensity will increase with the type of warm-up, so you will warm up at first with low-intensity exercises and then with high-intensity exercises to gradually prepare your body.
The purpose of warming up, therefore, is to prepare the body for better physical performance in training and to avoid any type of muscle contraction or injury.
Benefits Of Warming Up Before Your Workout
As I said, the purpose of a good warm-up is to get our body to an optimal level gradually in order to perform at its best.
Before subjecting our body to strong stress we need to prepare it properly. And with a good warm-up, we will get benefits like these to obtain a better performance:
1. Increasing Body Temperature
Raising the temperature of your muscles is essential to improve your performance.
According to medical studies, the ability of muscles to produce energy and raise the speed of muscle contraction can be increased by up to 13% for every degree Celsius of temperature that we manage to increase in the warm-up.
2. Improving Heart Activity And Breathing
The heating produces the opening of many capillary systems that are inactive at rest. This generates an increase in blood flow, in lung capacity, and boosts ejection volume.
Similarly, increasing oxygen uptake activates various phases of the metabolism that are essential for coping with stressful situations.
The cardiorespiratory system, therefore, increases its activity by dilating the blood vessels and increasing pulmonary irrigation by preventing contractures of the diaphragm, also known as ‘flatus’.
3. Improving Reflexes, Coordination, And Balance
When we warm up, there is a greater impulse from the nervous system. It increases its activity and concentrates on remembering the correct technique for stepping and movement.
In the same way, the adrenal systems are activated producing a greater number of endorphins and neurotransmitters, which will be necessary for later training.
4. Improve The Performance Of Your Muscles
During the warm-up, we get the blood to all the muscles involved in the training and oxygenates them.
The muscle fibers increase their length and their neuromuscular activation so that muscle performance is increased and muscle injuries are avoided.
5. Protect Joints, Ligaments, And Bone Structures
If the joints are heated properly, the fluidity of the synovial fluid, which protects the cartilaginous surfaces, is increased.
In the same way, the ligamentous system begins to adapt to the movement, as well as the bone structures that receive the direct impact, allowing better cushioning and dispersion of stress when running.
Therefore, warming up will help us prevent those annoying repetitive and impact injuries.
3 Steps To Warm Up Properly
The aim of these warm-up guidelines, which should not take you more than 20-30 minutes, is to get the best performance and avoid any kind of injury before speed training.
If you are a beginner in the world of running, and you want to learn how to warm up properly to prepare your body as well as possible before training, it is very important that you follow a warm-up routine like this:
1. Soft Run (10-15′)
The first step in warming up before starting to run is to gradually raise your body temperature by running smoothly.
You can start by walking at a good pace for a few minutes and then do a low-intensity jog to warn your body that you will soon increase your pace and start running.
The jog, as you probably know, is a brisk walk where you are working harder than you are walking, but requiring less effort than when you are running.
With this cardiovascular warm-up, you will get your muscles to a minimum optimum temperature for the next phase of your warm-up.
The duration will depend on the intensity, time or distance of the subsequent activity you will be doing. For basic training, I recommend a gentle 10-15 minute jog.
2. Joint Mobility (5′)
Our joint mobility, as its name suggests, is the ability we have to make certain movements through our joints, which are the union of bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.
After a gentle run, we must take this second phase of the warm-up into consideration. It consists of moving all the muscles in our body through the joints in a logical order, either upwards or downwards.
You will have to make rotational movements in each of the body segments (ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, head…) and this will quickly warm up your joints.
Joint mobility is an involutive capacity that we are going to lose with age or through injury, illness or accident and can even vary according to our diet and daily life (sedentary or active). That is why it is important to take it into account and include it in our warm-up.
The duration of this phase depends on your needs, although I recommend that you dedicate at least 5 minutes. That is 30 seconds on each body segment.
3. Dynamic Stretching (5-10′)
Stretches are gentle and sustained exercises that serve to prepare the muscles before making a greater effort, in this case running.
In general, stretching increases the flexibility of our muscles and reduces muscle tension and the likelihood of injury, among other benefits.
There is a lot of controversy about doing both static and dynamic stretching before starting to run, as you will find studies both for and against both.
Some studies claim that there are no significant differences between one or the other type of stretching when warming up runners and even that dynamic stretching only leads to more fatigue before running.
The latest research states that static stretching during warm-up is not recommended. On the contrary, they recommend stretching only to recover after training, in the cooling phase, which is when our muscles are most tired.
If you’re not sure which ones to try, my advice is to do dynamic stretching during your warm-up, as it offers significant benefits in increasing your muscle flexibility and has been recommended by great athletes like Deena Kastor.
Dynamic stretches are exercises based on jumps and swings in order to work a muscle chain to activate its corresponding musculature.
This type of exercise seeks to get your body to a position of maximum amplitude to improve your elasticity and increase the blood flow in the muscles that you will use during the subsequent training.
By performing dynamic stretching, you will reinforce the fulfillment of two essential objectives of your warm-up: minimizing the risk of injury and improving the performance of your training.
In addition to preparing your muscles specifically, you will increase your range of motion allowing for a more efficient running technique.
Keep in mind, too, that because you don’t have static movements and have more freedom of movement, you won’t find them so boring.
Warm Up With Dynamic Stretches
It is recommended that you perform stretches that help you prepare the muscle frames of both the upper and lower body.
The duration of this type of stretching should not be too long in order not to fatigue you. With 5-10 minutes in total, you will have more than enough.
Stretching too long will affect your muscle’s ability to contract and the consequences will be a significant loss of performance.
Remember to avoid bouncing or jerking. Stretching does not mean increasing the tension of your muscles until you feel pain. If this happens, it is because you are stretching your muscles too much.
As for breathing, it should be paused. Do not hold your breath while you stretch. You must breathe in when you stretch the muscle and breathe out while you hold it in tension.
I recommend that you include at least these dynamic stretching exercises in your stretching chart. You can repeat each sequence 3 to 5 times progressively increasing the amplitude of your movements to obtain a better result.
Exercise 1 (Pyramidal And Gluteus Maximus Muscle)
Walk with great strides by placing one leg forward and bent. Bend your support leg more as far as possible.
If you twist sideways while flexing, you will also stretch your back and abdominals.
Exercise 2 (Quadriceps, Psoas, Back, And Abdominal Muscles)
Standing with your arms crossed, stride forward with your right leg while trying to touch your right heel with your left hand and stretch your right arm up.
Exercise 3 (Quadriceps And Buttocks)
Walk by raising your knees to your chest, holding them briefly or keeping them in the air.
Stretch your quadriceps as you walk by lifting your heels up to your buttocks and holding them for a couple of seconds with your hand.
Exercise 4 (Gluteal, Femoral, And Hamstring)
Walk by bending your trunk forward without bending your legs. Do the same push-ups, alternating inward and outward toes.
Exercise 5: Strides (Optional)
If you want to extend your warm-up further before a speed training and after having performed the above steps, you can perform between 5 and 10 strides.
Strides are short, but very intense accelerations over a distance of about 100 m.
- To do them properly, you should gradually increase your speed until, over 50 meters, you have reached 85-95% of your maximum speed.
- Then you must maintain this speed between 2 and 5 seconds, and then lower it gradually.
- Before performing the next stride you should recover by walking for at least one minute or half a minute.
Warm-Up Is The Foundation Of A Better Workout
As you can see, it is possible to warm up in a dynamic and fun way, without it being a ‘boring waste of time’.
There are many benefits to warming up well, both to improve your training performance and to help prevent injuries that may arise in the short or long term.
You know, if you give it the time it needs, warming up will become the best foundation for your daily training!