Running season is beginning, and whether you are a novice runner or experienced, it is always a good idea to make sure you are doing everything you can to reduce your risk for injuries. A key component to a good running program is to ensure that you allow plenty of time for a warm-up and cool down with every run.
The purpose of a warm-up is to raise your body temperature and increase joint range of motion by reducing muscle stiffness. So in order to make sure your body and muscles are prepared for your run, you should introduce some low-level cardio and stretching exercises.
A warm-up should be anywhere from 5-10 minutes long. It is important to make sure it is not too tiring, or it will have a negative impact on your running performance and could possibly increase your risk for injury.
There are many good stretches and exercises that can be incorporated into a warm-up, and this is not meant to be an exhaustive list nor is it to outline exactly what is best for every person. The best warm-up for each person is going to be different, and it takes some time to find which exercises make you feel the best for your runs. With that being said, here are some ideas for good exercises to incorporate into a warm-up:
In addition to the exercises, it is also important to make sure you are working on deep, controlled breathing. This will prepare your inspiration muscles for the upcoming run along with your leg muscles.
As mentioned previously, don’t forget to do a good cool down at the end of your run. The purpose of the cool down is to return your heart rate close to resting. Stopping quickly without a cool down can result in light-headedness, dizziness, and/or fainting. A good example of a cool down is walking after running. Your cool down should range anywhere from two to five minutes.
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Blog Written By: Dr. Ryan Smrz, PT, DPT