Why it’s important to warm up before you run and how to warm up safely

Do you warm up before you go on your run?
If not then you could be on the road to injury.

With many of us having to schedule our runs in and around our busy lives, most of us don’t give a pre-run warm up a second thought.
But maybe we should, because let’s face it, injuries suck and no one wants to be left sitting on the bench getting the green-eyed monster watching everyone else around them run.
Although there is no special magical spell or a quick pill we can take to make us invincible and immune from running-related injuries there is a thing called prevention.
We can help protect ourselves simply by spending 10 minutes pre-run, running!

When I say running, I don’t mean press start on your Garmin and hit the road at a 7.30-minute mile pace, no-no-no.
I mean before you go about your run simply start nice and easy, slow and graceful before you charge down your high street like a bull.

Studies have shown that by starting with at a brisk walk then increase into a jog and then your run that not only are you warming up your awesome leg muscles, tendons and making them nice and stretchy so that they don’t snap but you also allow your ankle and hips to loosen up too.
But that’s not all, just a 10-minute warm-up is also good for your ticker.
Your heart is a muscle too and as with the leg muscles, by starting slowly you’re raising your heart rate at a steadier pace before making it work like the clappers.

And there’s more.
Just a 10-minute warm-up can also make you a better runner.
If you go at it fast from the off then your more than likely going to burn yourself out and be unable to keep your legs turning at that pace making you slow down, and feel worn out before your run is even over.
Running is hard work but also very enjoyable and no one enjoys flaking and feeling trashed mid-run.
Negative feelings like this can leave a runner feeling discouraged and not look forward to the next run, and over time the mojo may be lost, that’s if you haven’t tweaked a muscle before that.

So follow these easy steps to get the legs and lungs run ready.

Start – start with a walk at your normal pace, gradually increasing your pace to a brisk pace over 4-5 minutes.
Out of all warm-ups you can do this is by far the best, walking uses a very similar motion as running but as it’s done at a lower intensity than running so it’s allowing your legs to stretch out and warm up without putting them under intensive pressure.
If your a runner coming back from injury then this is a must for you.

Middle – Once you’ve been briskly walking for 5 minutes take it up a gear.
You could flow from the walk naturally into a jog and over the next five minutes increase the pace until your running or you could mix it up with some strides, aka, pickups.

Strides as a warm-up – Start jogging for a minute and accelerate your pace over an 80 – 100-meter stretch maintain that pace for 20 – 30 seconds, then slow it down to a slow jog again, repeat 3 – 5 times.

End – last but not least, if you don’t fancy doing any strides but want more than just jogging you could add some dynamic stretches into your warm-up to get the juices flowing.

Dynamic stretches are not the same as static stretching where we stretch and lengthen the muscles, leave these stretches to the end of your run as these shouldn’t be done on cold muscles and could cause injuries.
Instead get jumping with some jumping jacks, side steps with squat and some forward jacks.

By doing a 10-minute warm-up, not only are you protecting yourself from unwanted niggles and injuries but you’re setting yourself up for a more enjoyable run.

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  1. Good post Vicky.  I have no choice, with everything I’ve been through I have to warm up properly and stretch afterwards.  It’s nice if you can get away with not doing it but there is a possibility, sooner or later, this won’t be the case!  Besides which, I do actually run better having warmed up properly!

  2. The simple answer, for me at least, is “it all depends”.  If I’m intending to set off briskly – then yes definitely warm up first. It’s much less important I find if the start of the run itself actually serves as the warm up.