We have all heard this advice before. “Make sure you warm up before you start running.” Such a simple concept, why do so many people (especially runners) fail to head this advice? Truth is, we are all looking at ways to maximize our time working out. Between work, family commitments, and other daily chores, sometimes we only have thirty minutes to squeeze in a quick workout. This is when you (and me) say, I’ll just start slow and warm up along the way. By taking three to five minutes to warm up BEFORE you hit the road running, you are setting yourself up for success in two ways.
An Effective Warm-up = Improved Performance
The aim of warming up is to wake up your musculoskeletal system AND cardiovascular system. Many of us understand that muscles need to be warm and loose to tolerate the movement of running. Did you know your heart is also a muscle? The heart is responsible for pumping fresh, oxygenated blood from your lungs to your muscle to allow them to work. At rest, the average heart rate is between 60 and 80 beats per minute. The demand for running will raise your heart rate (depending on your age and fitness level) to well above 100, and upwards to 200 beats per minute!
Warming up the cardiovascular system keeps the heart, lungs, and muscles working at the same pace. Our heart and lungs take a little longer to “get up to speed” compared to our muscles. Initially, during physical activity, the body builds up an “oxygen deficit.” The deficit levels off once the heart and lungs have caught up to the musculoskeletal system. Have you ever noticed that when you start running the first few minutes seem much harder until you “settle in” and things become more comfortable? Blame feeling sluggish early in the run on the oxygen deficit.
Why does this matter for you? It’s simple, spending a few minutes warming up will allow you to jump into faster paces comfortably early on in your run. Basically, you will feel better AND run faster. Talk about a win, win!
An Effective Warm-up = Fewer Aches and Pains
Whether you run in the morning (after hopefully eight hours of sleeping) or the afternoon (after eight hours of working) your muscles are NOT ready to hit the ground running. Warming up is beneficial for your muscles in several ways. Dynamic stretching increases muscle temperature, allowing muscles to contract more smoothly and efficiently (1). It also increases the force and speed of muscle contractions, as well as the connection between the brain and muscle (neural transmission) (1).
Why does this matter to you? All of those adaptations in the muscle will allow you to run faster and more efficiently. Along with the performance benefits, dynamic stretching has been shown to reduce the incidence of muscle injuries (strains, tears, pulls) (1).
Now that I have convinced you to avoid skipping your warm-up, watch the video below for the five minute warm-up which will prep your body quickly and effectively for running!
Looking for more tips on how to improve your running? You’re in luck. Buffalo Rehab Group has teamed up with The YMCA Buffalo Niagara to offer you a free class “Run Your Best Turkey Trot.” Join your fellow turkey trotters to learn warm up tips, run specific strength exercises, training tips, and running drills to improve your run form from physical therapist and fellow runner Jenna Darron. For more details and to sign up click here!
Free Class for Runners
Your Best Turkey Trot
1. Woods, Krista, et al. “Warm-Up and Stretching in the Prevention of Muscular Injury.” Sports Medicine, vol. 37, no. 12, 2007, pp. 1089–1098.