I’ll be honest, I’ve never given it much thought and when I have, in the past, it was always to do some quick, maybe 5 minutes, high intensity cardio like jumping jacks, high knees and lunges. Warming up prior to a run was just not part of my regular workout routine, quite likely it’s because I never bought the significance as I felt I didn’t need it. However, in recent times I’ve come to believe that not doing so could be the reason I tire so quickly and remain unable to maintain my pace in my longer and high intensity training sessions.
I’m told that warming up prior to your workout is important for three reasons:
1. It prepares your body for the exercise you’re about to do
2. It guards against injuries
3. It helps you work more efficiently so you get more out of your workout
” A smart warmup gives your muscles, bones, and joints a chance to loosen up; it gradually and gently brings up your heart rate and makes it easier to get into the rhythm you want to sustain so you can run—and finish—feeling exhilarated and energized enough to go longer, and excited to set out for your next workout.” -Jennifer Van Allen, Runner’s World: How And Why You Should Warm Up Before A Run
I’m beginning to see the wisdom in this. In popular running circles, the word is that it’s important to warm up before any training that exceeds an easy run. This should take the form of an initial walk into a jog then a faster run then onto some dynamic stretches and can last anywhere between 10-30 minutes depending on the intensity of your workout. Dynamic Stretching uses controlled leg movements to improve range of motion, loosens up muscles and increases heart rate, body temperature, and blood flow to help you run more efficiently.
Here are some examples from Runner’s World; It is recommended you start slowly, focus on form; as the moves get easier, pick up speed.
2. Side step/shuffle Step to the side
3. Weave step (also known as “the grapevine”)
4. Backward jogging
5. Butt kicks
6. Hacky-Sack (lift up your left leg, bending your knee so it points out. Tap the inside of your left foot with your right hand and alternate.)
7. Toy soldier (with back and knees straight, walk forward, lifting your legs straight out in front and flexing your toes.)
This video, from real buzz.com, is one of many on the web that gives a brief but comprehensive outline of the best way to warm up and maximize the efficiency of your workout.