The No-Nonsense Warm-Up for Runners
Jogging in place is the warm-up most commonly performed by runners before they start to pound out the miles. Although this might get your heart rate up a little bit, it won't do much else for your body. If you want to get more benefits from your warm-up, you need a combination of dynamic movements and static stretches.
Dynamic stretches mimic athletic movements, opening up each joint's range of motion to allow for movement without restrictions. Good stretches improve run mechanics, help you run faster and prevent muscle pulls and tears.
Hold each stretch for 15 seconds and repeat with opposite leg.
Perform Walking Lunges before your stretches to engage all the muscles in your lower body and open up your hips. Next, perform Walking Side Lunges to stretch your inner thighs. Perform both for 15 yards and hold the lunge position for five seconds.
Assume athletic position and place right leg on bench. Straighten leg and lean slightly forward to slowly stretch the hamstring.
Lie on back with knees bent and feet on floor. Place right ankle on left thigh. Lift left foot off floor, grasp left thigh and pull toward chest to stretch right glute.
Lie on left side with knees bent. Grasp right ankle with right hand and slowly pull ankle toward glutes to stretch the quadriceps.
Lie on back with knees bent and feet together. Slowly separate knees toward floor to stretch inner thighs and groin.
Stand an arm's length away from wall and lace hands on wall with arms slightly bent. Step right foot back a few inches behind left foot. Lean slightly forward, drive left knee forward and extend right leg to press heel into floor.
Stand an arm's length away from wall and place hands on wall with arms slightly bent. Step forward with right foot two to three inches. Raise right toes off floor, keeping heel on ground.
Proper stretching doesn't take much time. In fact, the entire series (above) should take less than five minutes. Skip jogging in place and add this no-nonsense warm-up to your running workouts.
Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, a New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness director at the Greater Morristown YMCA in Cedar Knolls, N.J.