In light of the beautiful February weekend we are having today, I thought I would share with you a great template to use before you run to warmup. This information comes from a class I regulary teach to running groups.
Basically as the research shows stretching pre exercise is not recommended but more of a “dynamic” warmup is much better.
The gist of the proper warmup is to do a group of movements that activate both the muscles and the nervous while at the same time “stretching” them with dynamic movement, not the "classic holding a muscle for 30 seconds stretch".
Here is a terrific warm up I do and have used with various athletes with great results. Is there other versions of a great warmup out there? Sure, this is one version that just seems to work great with the athletes I have treated.
1. Skip 20 yards (really move both your arms and legs high with this one)
2. Grapevine/Carioca 20 yards
3. Dynamic Lunges 20 Yards (twisting reaching upward and taking BIG and SMALL steps) (this one is important for you tight hip flexor people whose quads do not fire properly while running)
4. Butt Kicks (run trying to kick you but with your heels) (great to get the hamstrings activated)
5. Lateral Shuffle 20 yards (when you go 20 yards turn around and go back the same direction to work both sides well)
6. Run backwards keeping your butt low for 20 yards
7. 50% sprint 20-40 yards, Working your way up to 50 or 100 yards and 80% of max
How to implement this into your training:
Do 3-4 sets of these and the sprints after the other warm ups
Also, before the warmup exercises you could lightly run 2 laps around the field or track or about 800 meters total.
Lastly, if you are someone who is prone to a specific injury or rehabbing and injury this is a great time to do your rehab work. Performing the rehab work befoe training will really limit your chance of further injuries.
Some of the best rehab exercises to do before training are the Clam exercise to activate the glutes (IT band suffers), the split squat to stretch and activate the psoas and hip flexors and quad (tight hip flexors lead to lower back pain and hamstring problems) and lastly Lateral Walks with a band, again great for the IT band runners and weak glute runners.
If you love foam rolling like I do, the time to foam roll is briefly before the warmup only on the really tight spots for 2-5 minutes. The real benefits of foam rolling come after the run when muscles are looser and ready to be released, it's a great post workout recovery tool.
Give it a try for 3 weeks and see how much your performance improves and your aches and pains go away.