For the third part of our Running Series, we’re looking at the most overlooked aspect of running: the warm-up. Most runners — competitive or casual, rev up and hit strides at full speed as soon as they’re out of the door because the ultimate goal is to just hit the ground running. However starting out too fast without preparing the body runs the risk of over-straining muscles, twisting tendons, or even burning out before reaching your running goals. This is because the muscles have gone from sedentary to full-speed without adjusting to the movement and the demands that exercise will have on the body. Give your body the best head-start with the following warm-up sets — perfect for loosening up and preparing you to last longer on your run.
Get your heart pumping and improve flexibility and strength in your legs with a set of high knee lifts. You will benefit from high knee lifts by standing straight-on with your feet positioned hip-distance apart as this will wake up the quadriceps, the hamstrings and the majority of lower limb muscles. As you slide into a rhythm of jumping from one foot to the other, lift your knees as high as possible with your arms following suit. Be sure to land with the balls of your feet, so that you’re working the correct muscles.
Along with your hips and glutes, the hamstrings play a pivotal role in feeding power into your runs, so it’s only right if you loosen these muscles up before bringing speed to your game. The hamstrings are often the first set of muscles to tighten up once overworked, so you should stretch them out by propping your leg on a bar and rocking your body forward to feel a gentle pull. Hold this position for 20 seconds before moving to your other leg.
Fire up your leg muscles right up to the hip joint and bring a wide range of flexibility to your run with a set of side lunges. Engage your core and stand with your feet positioned hip-distance apart before taking a wide step to the right. To ensure that you’re working the right muscles, make sure that you’ve kept the right knee slightly bent, while your left leg stretches out. Repeat on the other side.
Activating your core muscles, lengthening your hamstrings and pumping your arm muscles, the Inchworm is a combination of several exercises — helping you to stimulate different muscles at once. Start by moving into the push-up position, and while keeping your torso as still as possible, slowly walk your legs towards your arms. Then walk your arms forward before repeating the exercise.
Reduce knee pain and prevent injuries by stretching out the largest thigh muscle — the quadriceps. Do so by standing upright on one leg with your knees touching. Grab your left foot with your left hand and pull it towards your glutes before repeating your stance and moving to your next leg.
Strengthen the vital muscles used while running: the hips, legs and shoulders with a set of Jumping Jacks while moving sideways. Get the right posture by standing straight with your feet together, your knees slightly bent and your arms hanging loose down by your sides. Then raise your arms in a synchronous movement to reach above your head while jumping with your feet positioned slightly apart – this will help you to balance much easier. Jump again and bring your feet back together with your arms down by your sides. Repeat this movement 10 times on each side.
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