Warming up before a workout is essential, no matter what type of exercise you’re doing.
It’s especially important before a run, and this applies for the casual runner to the top-level athlete.
You will notice that before a game of soccer or before an Olympic race, the sportsmen and sportswomen who are participating will be doing dynamic stretches. They will be lunging, jumping, and squatting to warm up their muscles and prepare their bodies for exercise.
When it comes to your own warm-up, you might find yourself focusing on static stretches as it may feel like the most familiar style of stretching.
Simply performing static stretches isn't necessarily the best way to prepare for a run though. It can form part of your warm-up but it shouldn’t be the only thing that you do.
Static stretching is an amazing way to improve mobility around your joints and enhance blood circulation around your body before a run. However, you should be doing a more intensive warm-up before performing these stretches.
Performing static stretching before properly warming up your muscles increases your risk of pulling a muscle. This is because when you are stretching the muscles while they are still ’cold’.
Ideally, static stretching should be preserved as part of your cool down to help the muscles relax after your run.
So, what can you do instead? The best type of stretching to perform in the pre-workout period is dynamic stretching.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
The term dynamic just means moving. It means moving the muscles around to lengthen them before your workout. Instead of simply stretching the muscle to a fully lengthened position, you are constantly moving it in and out of this position.
Dynamic stretching enables you to fully warm up and boost blood circulation around your body. It tells your muscles ‘hey, we’re about to work hard so let’s get prepared’!
Here are some great ways to incorporate dynamic stretching into your routine before you head out for a run:
- Leg swings
- Hip circles
- Walking lunges
- Torso twists
The idea is to keep moving at all times. You could create a small circuit of each of the above exercises, performing 10-15 reps of one before moving right into the next. Aim to stretch dynamically for around 10 minutes before going out to run. This will ensure that you can hit every muscle and prepare them all for a tough workout.
Dynamic stretching is going to prevent you from pulling a muscle and injuring yourself, so don't forget to do it before every run!
Dr. Michael Mighton DC, B.Kin