Question: if running is your preferred form of exercise, do you always warm up first? If not, you’re not alone by any stretch – but you will be at greater risk of injury.
Around half of our physiotherapy clients with running-related injuries confess that they never warm up. Ever. They just hit the ground, er, running. The other half believe that walking for five minutes first will do. While that’s certainly better than nothing, there is a better way to make sure your muscles are properly warm before you break into a full run.
What’s the point of warming up again? It’s all about preparing your body for strenuous exercise by increasing your core body temperature and muscle temperature. Another benefit of warming up is it helps you perform at your peak.
You can avoid 99% of injuries by warming up correctly
My personal warm-up routine
As a long-time physio and veteran runner, I practise something called ‘active strengthening’. Active strengthening plays a huge role in injury prevention because it warms up the muscles in order to prevent tendon and muscle belly tears.
When I’m ready to run, I set aside five minutes for:
- 1 x set of 20 standing lunges
Start in the lunge position, making sure the back knee is touching the ground, then use the front foot to push back into a neutral standing position (both feet together) with each lunge.
- 1 x set of calf pumps
Start on your hands and knees, then lift up on your toes (with the weight on your shoulders) and begin pushing your heels to the ground, alternating each foot.
REPEAT STEPS 1 and 2, then off you go!
*Side note: cooling down is a vital part of running too, and can help you avoid painful muscle soreness over the next couple of days. The best way to cool down is by performing a series of static stretches that target the backs of your legs and hip flexors.