Be Honest - Do You Warm Up Before You Run?
Is your warm up running around the house looking for a lost trainer or just going a bit slow for the first mile? Warming up is actually more important than you may realise, especially when the temperatures start to drop. It’s too important to skimp on. Here’s why...
Warming up will:
· Gradually prepare your heart and lungs for the effort about to come. Whilst it won’t eliminate that initial ‘toxic ten’ minutes of your run when you feel as if you want to stop, it will improve the elasticity of connective tissues and prepare your lungs
· Make you perform better in your run. There’s a phenomenon called ‘post activation potentiation’ which means muscular performance is enhanced because of a previous contraction. So, if you’ve used a muscle in a warm up, it will perform better in your run
· Protect your joints. Warming up encourages the circulation of the synovial fluid which cushions and lubricates your joints
· Activate your neural pathways. Warming up wakes up the communication between your brain and your muscles and also improve joint position and awareness which will activate muscles, improve co-ordination and reduce your risk of stumbling, falling and therefore being injured
· Warm up your mind. Taking the time to focus on your goals and on positive thoughts and imagery will get you in the zone for your work-out and boost performance.
So what’s the best way to warm up?
You don’t need a complicated routine. Ten minutes of brisk walking followed by some dynamic stretches is enough. Dynamic stretches get your muscles warm and your joints prepared; essentially they involve taking a joint through its whole range of movement. Examples include arm swings, hip circles and lunges. Avoid static stretches and save these for after your run. While you’re doing this, have a think about the run ahead, how far you have already come and what you want to achieve in the session.
Why not share your favourite warm up exercises in the comments below?
By Dr Juliet McGrattan