Most of us are always in a rush – whether we are on our way to a meeting, a Sunday lunch, or whatever the case may be. Your reasons may very well be legit, but when it comes to running, your warm-up cannot be rushed or worse still, skipped altogether. The benefits of warming-up before running, or participating in any sport for that matter, are hugely important… but do you truly realise how important it is? We break it down for you…
Benefits of warming-up, broken down
The first point to consider when we refer to warming-up is that we are not talking about stretching. Stretching and warming-up are often confused. Warming-up refers to using exercises that work the correct muscle groups, raising your body temperature, and increasing your heart rate and blood circulation, and it is done before an activity, like running. We, in fact, previously highlighted in our 10 Running Myths Exposed feature that static stretching before your run is not advisable and you should rather warm-up properly.
The most obvious reason why it is important to warm-up properly is that it reduces your chances of getting injured. By warming-up correctly, you will loosen up your joints and the elasticity in your muscles increases, so you are able to get a full range of motion. A better range of motion is going to minimise the chances of your body succumbing to an array of running injuries, including sprains, severe cramps or torn muscles. That improved range of motion is also going to transcend into your performance. In addition, your body is also going to better brace itself for increasingly vigorous activity, which is going to allow you to run in a more efficient manner.
Similarly to how a car should be warmed-up before you drive it in low temperatures, the same applies to you before you run. You also prepare the body, including your heart, by gradually raising its temperature, as opposed to just going smack into an elevated temperature and heart rate, which can sometimes be too big a shock to the body.
Five to ten minutes of a proper warming-up is going to help you up the blood circulation in your tendons and muscles and even in your joints. In this regard, these areas are adequately prepared to function as a cohesive unit. Your muscles will be able to work harder because warming-up will help by sending oxygen to them.
There is also a psychological benefit to warming-up. When you perform these warm-up exercises, especially when you know that you’re in for an intense run or sprint, your warm-up helps your body ease into the physical activity, and it will also help you mentally ease into it, because you are not diving headfirst into the main activity.
Warming-up also causes your body to facilitate more hormones; the type that regulate the production of energy. Therefore, your body gets the right type of fuel to help you get through your run. This will help you last longer and delay your burn-out or fatigue.
When you warm-up – whether it’s with exercises such as butts kicks and high knees – you definitely want to get your heart rate up too, enough for you to break a sweat, but be careful not to overdo it either – you don’t want to warm-up with such a high intensity that you burn out too soon afterwards.
It is easy to overlook the importance of a warming-up, but don’t be fooled, you definitely need it before your run. Warming-up in the right manner is going to help you give off a better performance on the road or trail, so don’t short-change yourself.
Do you always warm-up before you run? What exercises do you use to warm-up?