The Warm Up: Drills, Dynamic Stretching, and Foam Rolling

Running is the simplest form of exercise, right? Lace up and head out the door. Especially for a busy lifestyle, it’s tempting to rush outside and get in a 30 minute jog before returning home to jump in the shower, eat a quick breakfast and head back out to work. But, spending 10-15 minutes before a run to prepare is key to preventing injury, better form, and feeling better as you hit the pavement!

THE WARM UP

A proper warm up (whether you are running or strength training) should:

  1. Loosen your muscles
  2. Elevate your heart rate
  3. Mentally prepare you for exercise

First, start with 5 minute of foam rolling. Foam rolling prior to a workout will help reduce muscle tension from previous runs/workouts and allow your muscles to function better. Determine what muscles are tight and spend about 1 minute on each body part, rolling until you find a point of tension then holding in that spot for 25-30 seconds. Calves, Quads, TFL, Piriformis and Hips are all common points of tension for runners. Also consider using a lacrosse ball to roll out your feet and even your upper body like your traps and chest if you tend to hunch over or tense up when you run, especially if sit at a desk all day.

Next, spend 3-5 minutes on dynamic stretching. You should never do static stretching (holding a stretch for more than 10 seconds) before a run, as it decrease running performance and increases your chance of injury. Think of your muscles like a rubber band: in running, they need to be able to bounce back after extension, and static stretching can cause them to become overstretched and prone to injury. Dynamic stretching uses controlled movements to improve range of motion, increase your heart rate and improve your blood flow.

*Note: videos of the exercises below are available on our Instagram page in our highlights! Click here to check us out!

Leg Swings

Swing one leg out to the side, then swing it back across your body in front of your other leg. Repeat 10 times on each leg. Next, swing the leg out in front of you, then to the back. Repeat 10 times on each leg. Hold onto a wall in your apartment or a fence or bench in the park to stabilize yourself.

Knee Pulls

Pull one knee into your chest with both hands holding just below the knee. Alternate sides, as you walk, repeating 10 times for each leg.

Tabletops

Lift your left leg up, bending the knee so it points out. Grab at your ankle (not your foot) as you push the knee down to open up your hips. Alternate legs as you walk, repeating 10 times for each leg.

Hamstring Nerve Glides

Step one foot in front of you with the heel on the floor and the toe pointed up. Keeping a flat back, use your arms to follow your leg down to the floor making a “scooping” motion, like you’re gathering a pile of toys from the ground. Switch legs as you walk forward, repeating 10 times for each leg.

Toy Soldier

Keeping your back and knees straight, walk forward, kicking your legs straight out in front and flexing your toes. Reach opposite arm to your toe as you kick. Repeat 10 times on each leg.

High Knees

Stand in place with your feet hip-width apart. Drive your right knee toward your chest and quickly place it back on the ground as you move forward. Follow immediately by driving your left knee toward your chest. Continue to alternate knees as quickly as you can. Begin with slower, controlled movements and gradually speed up.

Butt Kicks

Jog forward with an exaggerated backswing so that your heels come up to your glutes. Repeat 10 times for each leg.

A-Skips

Skip forward, lifting your lead knee to waist height while keeping your back leg straight as you come off your toe. Continue moving forward in this manner—alternating legs—and striking the ground with your mid-foot or forefoot while swinging your opposite arm in unison with your lead leg.

Now you are ready to head out for your run! You’ll find that you’ll be more warmed up cardiovascularly, your muscles will feel like they can move with proper form, and you will be less prone to pulling a muscle on your run.

Want to learn more about dynamic stretching? Reach out below!

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