Running is one of the best sports because anyone can do it regardless of age and fitness level. Running isn’t an expensive sport, it doesn’t require any special skills, and you don’t need a coach for mastery. However, running, like other sports, carries the risk of injuries. On the other hand, you can reduce the risk if you warm up properly before running.
You can read in this article about the following topics:
- Why is warming up important?
- The benefits of running
- What to pay attention to during warm-up?
- Pre-run warm-up exercises
- Warming creams for a more efficient warm-up
Why is warming up important?
Warming up helps the body prepare for increased intensity in physical activity. During warm-up, the blood supply to your muscles increases, your body’s oxygen levels improve, which decreases the risk of muscle injuries, muscle tears, and strains. Fluid production increases in the joints, which prevents joint and cartilage injuries. The body starts regulating heat production and heat dissipation, and it drives out waste products from the blood by sweating, thus increasing performance.
While warming up, you prepare for the workout mentally. This will make you more focused and reduce the risk of mistakes. In some sports, mental preparation is of paramount importance. For example, in-wall climbing, the smallest mistake or losing focus can lead to serious consequences.
The benefits of running
Running increases endurance. Muscles require more oxygen when you’re running, so the heart pumps faster. As a result, the heart muscles strengthen, and, in the long run, the resting heart rate decreases. By not having to work so hard in your daily life, the risk of cardiovascular diseases decreases. Running is also great for weight loss and has a positive effect on metabolism. Another important aspect is that during running, your body releases endorphins that improve your mood and overall well-being. Stress relief is extremely important these days and running helps you stay away from your problems for at least a little while.
What to pay attention to during warm-up?
Running works our whole body, but the muscles and joints are under increased pressure. Thus, it is especially important to warm up from the waist down. Do a warm-up session that moves all the major joints. The joints in the knees and ankles are extremely vulnerable, keep that in mind. It is also crucial to choose the place where you go running wisely, since running on concrete is harmful to the joints.
The warm-up session has to gradually increase in intensity. Just like in a workout, you shouldn’t jump into the exercises head-on. Pay attention to your breathing because that way your body absorbs more oxygen, thus improving circulation in the muscles. Avoid sudden, quick movements.
In addition to warming up the muscles of the legs and torso, don’t forget about the upper body either.
Also, consider external factors. In cold weather or in the morning, you should spend more time warming up because your muscles and joints are still stiff, so there is a higher risk of injury.
Pre-run warm-up exercises
Walking, slow running and jumping exercises are perfect for warming up the muscles, while there are special stretching exercises used to warm up the joints and increase the range of motion of the joints.
Start with walking or slow running
The best way to warm up your muscles is to do cardio exercises like walking or slow running.
Warming up the feet and ankles
Such exercises are walking on heels, walking on the outer or inner edges of the foot and ankle circles.
Warming up the muscles in the upper body
You can warm up the muscles in your upper body with upper body circles, hip circles, and forward bends.
Warming up hip joints and hip flexor muscles
Lift your knee and pull it towards your chest for at least 10 seconds. Then do circles with your knees facing outwards, repeat it 10 times on both sides. For the best results, raise your knees as high as you can.
Stretching the thigh muscles
Lift your leg up until your heel touches your buttocks. Hold the position for at least 10 seconds.
Warming up the knees
Knee circles with your legs slightly bent, in both directions ten times.
Warming creams for a more efficient warm-up
You can make warm-up more effective with a proper warming cream. It is especially recommended if you know you will run a longer distance that day or there are some other difficulties, e.g., cold weather, or early in the morning. However, warming creams only complement, not replace a proper warm-up session. The principle is the same for each cream, improving blood flow in the affected area. Nowadays, however, you can find different warming creams, so there are special creams for runners, creams for different intensity workout sessions, and more greasy or gel-like creams. Everyone can choose according to their preferences.
Of course, experienced runners can alternate their favourite warm-up exercises and come up with new ones to move each part of their body. The point of pre-run warm-up is to get moving, especially the hips, legs, ankles, and knees. And let’s not forget about good running shoes either!