Ok so it takes time, feels tedious and boring, and makes me look silly, but here are “4 Important Reasons to Warm-Up before Running:”
- Literally, warm-up the body. When muscles and tendons are warmer than their resting temperature, they become more elastic, and are less likely to undergo tearing of fibers. Aging, muscle or movement imbalance, and cold bodies all contribute to tearing of muscle and tendon fibers rather than allowing them to stretch and recoil elastically.
- Lube-it-or-lose-it; Joints are the connections between bones, and in the hips and legs those connections experience pressure and friction at 3-5 times body weight when running, for every step. The cartilage structures on the ends of the bones provide a bit of cushioning, and (should) have nice, smooth surfaces to minimize friction. One of the body’s defense s against against friction forces that can wear down cartilage (which doesn’t grow back), is synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is a viscous fluid with nutrients for joint structures. It acts like oil in an engine, allowing joint surfaces to glide smoothly over each other for thousands of repetitions, but there are two issues with synovial fluid;-It reaches peak viscosity at around 20 years of age, so the older we get, the more watery and less effective synovial fluid is as cartilage lube.-It is also stored in the cartilage, and it takes some repetitive compression and movement to squeeze it out of the cartilage and get it spread around the joint surfaces. If a runner starts pounding the pavement without getting the lube spread around the joint, there is risk for unneeded wear and tear in the joint.
*if you have pain when you start running, and it goes away after some amount of time or mileage, then you need to tune-up your warm-up.
- Joint mobility; Runners and Walkers don’t need to have the flexibility of a gymnast, but they do need to have adequate range of motion in key joints, especially of the hips and ankles. The very act of logging miles and miles of running or walking for endurance training has a tendency to cause muscle tightness and other limitations that can hinder joint mobility, which is a step toward a repetitive-stress injury. Joint mobility should be done after body temperature has been elevated through low impact exercise. Depending on the particular needs of the athlete, mobility work might be a static or dynamic stretch, or a joint mobilization that involves a very directed force through the joint itself.
- Recruitment; bootin’ up the brain-muscle connection. Recruitment is a neurological process whereby the brain triggers the appropriate amount of muscle contraction in a well-coordinated fashion. This doesn’t happen optimally right away when starting a complex activity and you can bet your gluteus maximus that running and walking are one of the most complex movement patterns that human beings perform. By the way, if you only pick one muscle to “boot-up,” make it the Glute Max.
Ideal Warm-up format:
- 5-15 minutes of low impact cardio work: walk/jog, elliptical trainer, cycling, slow uphill jog, etc.
- Mobility/flexibility work: dynamic flexibility, static stretching or joint mobilizations as needed.
- Muscle recruitment and patterning drills
- Run workout
- Cool-down (muscle flush)
- Static stretching
The importance of a good warm-up increases with;
- -history of injury
- -cold environment
- -high impact or high intensity activity
- Specific injury may require a very specific warm-up routine.
- See the blog at http://www.realrehab.com/realrehab/blog for a copy of this article.
- Almost any static stretch can be turned into a dynamic flexibility/warm-up exercise.
Example of a mild Pre-Run warm-up:
- Increase muscle/tendon temperature and elasticity
- Increase joint Range of Motion
- Lubricate joint surfaces
- Moderately load muscles to stimulate recruitment and coordination
Exercises/motions: Feeling a “pump” is fine, but do NOT fatigue-out muscles before running.
- Hip and ankle circles: joint mobility
- Heel raises (stairstep, wall push, split-stance , downward dog), double and single leg: calf muscles, ankle dorsiflexion.
- Air squats: hip, knee and ankle mobility.
- Hip hinges: double and single leg (bird dips): hamstrings and glutes
- Adductor squats
- Split squats with pelvic tilt
- Hip Hikes
- Runner’s reverse lunge
- Captain Morgans
- Side-step Sumo Squat
- Hip swings (front-back, side-to-side)
- Carioca sidestep
- Butt Kicks
- Goose stepping
- High knee walk/jog
- ½ squat heel raises, double and single leg
- Lateral step-up
- Skater or Lateral leap drill
Endurance Athlete Rehab and Performance Specialist