Step out on the right foot
Last month I wrote about strength training exercises that are great to add to your running regimen to keep your body healthy and strong.
This month I want to share a few exercises to add to your warm up before you head out on the road or hop on that treadmill.
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More than just stretching…
Warming up for running needs to be more than just a quick stretch of your calves and quads and maybe a little bit of walking. Stretching your muscles and a warm up walk are good things to do, but they don’t want to be the only things you do.
Below I’ll share some movements to add and why they’re good to do before you go out for a run or jog. You’ll notice that the large theme in the movements below have to with preparing the mind and the body as well as activating muscles that may need a bit of an extra “hello” for them to join the party.
Align, Stretch and Activate
If you been reading for a while you know that we often start fitness topics with breathing. Here is no different. Performing a breathing exercise offers several benefits. First, it can offer you a few moments to forget the day before or after the run and focus on the run you about to embark on. Give you a moment to visualize how it will go.
Second, the deep breaths you will doing in the breathing exercise will possibly calm you down if you were having a bit of a day, but also get you focused on your breathing, which is an important part of the jogging and running journey.
Lastly, the breathing exercise will help align your ribs over your pelvis. This will help in your body in several ways. First, it can help position the core in it’s optimal position to stabilize and protect the spine. Second, because of the repositioning of the ribs, it can help the shoulder blades move better over the rib cage as you swing your arms. (and the better you pump the arms the quicker you can run. Third, with this alignment, things like low back pain may not come for a visit.
The connection breath
Perform 5 breath cycles.
Spiderman stretch with twist
This movement is a great way to open up your hip flexors and quads as well as get a stretch in the hamstrings. The added bonus of the twist is a great way to open up in the thoracic spine for better movement of the upper body while running. Plus rotating the upper back helps the shoulder blades move on the ribs as well, which as stated above, helps with arm movement.
Hold the stretch in the lunge position for 3-5 breath cycles and then perform 3-5 rotations.
Half Kneeling Ankle Dorsiflexion
I like this one because it’s stretching out your calf and warming up the ankles. Some folks also feel an added stretch through the quads and hip flexors. All good things for those about to head out for a run.
Hip lift (single or double)
Either movement is good for activating the glutes and opening up through the front of the hips and quads some more. Your glutes are in charge of extending the leg behind you. For good running mechanics you need your leg to extend behind you some. You need the strength and the forced that the glutes and hamstrings create that keep propelling you forward. Let’s activate those glutes!
I am sharing both the single and double leg option. Pick the one that works best for you.
Do 5 reps, where that’s 5 reps total if doing the double leg exercise or 5 reps on each side if doing the single leg exercise.
This is to activate your core some more and warm up the contralateral movement that you’ll be doing while running. Perform 5 reps on each side.
Off the floor and getting moving
The next few exercises are to prepare you for the work ahead. You can do these before or after you do a bit of a walking warm-up. (If you do walking as part of your warm-up.) These dynamic warm-ups work the body in more of that contralateral movement pattern that you’ll be using while running, but also are preparing your goings for a bit more impact.
Find a stretch of space to do about 20 reps total.
My hope is that you’ll incorporate these into your pre-run warm-up routine. It really shouldn’t take you more than 15 minutes. Well, maybe in the beginning it might take you more since you will be learning all the cues, but once you know it, it should only take 15 minutes.
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