How many times have you heard “You need to warm up before your run?” Time and time again, no matter how much it is said, runners forget to warm up or cool down. It is easy to skip the warm-up or cool down to squeeze in a quick run before you have to get to work, pick up your kids, or make dinner. Often times we, including myself, forget how important it is to take some time to prepare the body for the run. What if I said that if you spend around 3-5 minutes warming up before a run it could help you run faster. Yes, that is right, FASTER! In this article, I will cover:
- Why it’s important to warm up/cool down
- The proper way to warm up/cool down
The most important part of the warm-up before a run is to get your heart pumping and increase your heart rate. By increasing your heart rate, you are increasing blood flow and oxygen to your muscles to help with performance. A good way to help you increase your heart rate is by performing dynamic (ballistic) stretches. Dynamic stretching involves loading the tissues quickly (3-5 seconds) and activities to help jump-start the system before activity.
So now that you have properly warmed up and were able to complete your run feeling great then that’s it, right? WRONG! Not only is it important to warm up but also cool down after your run! The most important part after a run is flexibility. Typically, static (sustained) stretching is indicated for a proper cool down. Static stretching is best performed with 30-second holds to help improve flexibility and allow tissue recovery. Flexibility improvements will lead to improvements in performance, pace, efficiency, and help to prevent injuries.
Watch this video to learn more:
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- Van Hooren, B. “Do we need a cool down after exercise? A narrative review of psychophysiological effects and the effects on performance, injuries, and the long-term adaptive response.” Sports Med. 2018; 48(7):1575-1595.