Running is one of the most popular forms of exercising and keeping fit. Whether you do it on the treadmill or out in the park, one thing is always the same before you get started: warming up. Of course, every amateur or professional runner knows this and we are confident that you never start your running without going through your warm-up routine.
But now comes a critical question: are you sure that your warm up is adequate and prepares your body for the physical strain of running? Doctors and professional coaches took a look at how athletes and amateur runners are warming up and identified several mistakes in the way they prepare their body for the effort.
For example, a lot of runners start with stretching. There are correct ways and wrong ways to do the pre-run stretches, and many people do them the wrong way. However, from now on you will know how to warm up your muscles for a good run because we will show you exactly what you have been doing wrong.
1. Static Stretching
We hinted at the right way and wrong way of doing stretches, so we will start with them. Static stretching is a wrong way to do your warm up before running. You definitely know and do this routine: stand with your legs wide apart, bend down till your forehead touches the leg, hold the position for 10-20 seconds, and repeat on the other side.
Here is why this is wrong: your tendons are like rubber bands. The wider you stretch them, the more lax they become when they have to snap back into place. With the type of static stretches described above, your tendons are stretched too much and will do you a disservice during your run (possibly even leading to injuries from wrong stepping and gait).
Do this instead: dynamic stretching, such as hopping, lunges, walking with your knees lifted as high up as they go, and hip lifts.
2. Doing Core Exercises
Since you are doing your pre-run warm up, shouldn’t you also throw in a few sit-ups and push-ups for good measure? No, you should not. Core exercises and cardio routines are not similar to a proper warm-up routine. They put a lot of strain on your body and leave you tired and unable to do your usual run without being out of breath.
Remember that the whole point of your warm-up routine is to prepare your body for the actual running, not strain your muscles and consume all your energy.
3. Not Focusing On Knee and Hip Flexibility
Flexible knees and hips are crucial for safe running. A stiff knee can lead to a misstep and a serious injury – a sprained ankle, for example. If you want to ensure that your knees and hips work properly during the run, you should focus on stretch exercises for the rectus femoris muscle, which runs behind your leg between the knee and the hip. Just be careful to do these stretches at least 30 minutes before the run.
4. Not Wearing Sweats
Sweats are the ideal exercising clothing. They may not appear to be a critical part of your warm up, but if you exercise outdoors it is very important to avoid getting your muscles chilled. The inner heat released as you warm up, combined with the chilled weather outside, will make your muscles contract and not work properly during your run.
These four mistakes in your warm-up routine could lead to serious injuries during your run. It is not hard to avoid them – all you have to do is not overdo your warm up and choose the types of exercises that prepare your muscles for the run without straining them.