Warm Up Exercises Before Running
A warm up before any exercise is something everyone should do, but if you’re new to running, you might not know how important a warm up before you run is or even what kind of warm up is the right one. Without a proper and effective pre-run routine, though, you run (ha) the risk of pulling muscles and ankle sprain, and it’s sometimes hard to return to running after injury. So if you want to ensure you reach the running heights you’ve set for yourself and maybe become a lifetime runner, check out our top warm up exercises to do before you run.
Why Warm Up?
A proper warm up ensures you minimize the risk of injury and being prepared for a run is about more than just wearing your brand new running shoes. It loosens the muscles, reduces stress, and increases your performance to deliver the results you are looking for. Without an efficient warm up, you won’t achieve the levels you need for a successful run.
What Type Of Warm Up?
The debate between static and dynamic warm ups is something that rages through the running community on a daily basis. You’re likely more used to static stretching – where you hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds. However, a dynamic warm up is often more beneficial before the run as it incorporates the full range of movement in the joints and muscles that running demands.
Start off easy by rolling your ankles around anti-clockwise twenty times on each foot. This loosens the joints in the area you’ll put most of the pressure on during your run.
The walking lunge is crucial for warming up the major muscles to give you the leg power needed for a successful run. This focuses on both the quadriceps and hip flexors while also encouraging that forward movement you need when running. Completing 10 of these for each leg is an ideal warm up routine and is just enough to get the blood pumping without wearing you out.
Your calves need to be just as energized as the rest of your legs, so find a step and complete 15 to 20 calf raises for each leg. These are some of the best exercises to prevent running calf pain. You can do it together or try to balance depending on which method you prefer and make sure you lower your heels below the step to get the most benefits.
As you experience a lot of weight around your hips when running, getting them used to the movement will help prevent injury. Stand with your hands on your hips and rotate in a direction while making the circles wider as you progress. Complete 5 to 10 rotations before switching directions.
Stand against a wall and swing each leg from side to side 20 times. This warms up the glutes, quads and hips all in one to give you a superb warm up option that helps loosen you up before hitting the sidewalk. To ensure the best results, plant one foot firmly on the ground and place your hands above your head against a wall while also making sure there is nothing in the way you could bash your foot into.
A quick 5 to 10 minute light aerobic exercise is a fantastic way to ease yourself into the run once you finish with the stretching and general warm up. This also helps to loosen your muscles and joints further and goes an extra step towards preventing injury. Start off with a brisk walk before graduating into a light jog and then your desired pace.
These warm up stretches are useful before a run, but if you don’t know how to do them properly and how to achieve the correct form, you may as well not be doing anything at all. Here’s some further advice so you can get the most out of your pre-run warm up.
Don’t Overdo It
Just because you feel you can stretch your calf, hamstring or other muscles further than your body is telling you doesn’t mean you should. When you feel your muscles resisting, ease up on the stretch. Over time, this tension will relax and you’ll soon be able to stretch further and further until you can reach your toes.
Work On Both Sides Of Your Body
Regardless of where you feel tightness on your legs or hips, it’s still important to stretch both sides of your body equally. This ensures you get the full range of motion during your run and can ensure your run is as successful as you need it to be.
When focusing on your warm up, it’s easy to forget to breathe naturally, but you’re smart, and you can definitely multi-task, so stay calm and keep taking long, deep belly breaths.
Many people both new and experienced with stretching are tempted to bounce while holding the stretch. However, while you might think this helps you get an extra millimeter of stretching in each muscle, it can cause straining, so if you find yourself doing this, stop, and if you see someone else doing it, give them the same advice.
Remember To Stretch And Cool Down After Your Run, Too!
We know, we know, you’ll get back from your run and want to crash onto the sofa and wonder if you’ll ever get up again, but this is one of the things you should not do after a run. Neglecting to stretch post-run means you’ll eliminate the chance of lactic acid build-up which will prevent your muscles seizing up and stop soreness.
For reasons including injury prevention, loose, easy running, and a more enjoyable experience, a proper warm up before a run is an essential part of your exercise routine you should never neglect. We know you might not always ‘have time’ to stretch before your run, but taking this extra ten minutes before hitting the streets or the treadmill will be invaluable and ensure you keep running and running without pulling up and spending weeks on the shelf.
- Warm-Up, Cool-Down, and Stretching Tips for Running – Very Well Fit
- 10 Reasons Why You Should Be Stretching – ACE Fitness
- The 8 Best Stretches to Do Before Running – Livestrong
- Should I Stretch Before or After Running? – Runners World