Who Has Time for Warm-ups?
I get it… you’re trying to fit your run in before work and you need the extra ten minutes of sleep, or in your lunch break, or after work and you just want to get through it.
But did you know that a good warmup is key to helping reduce your chance of injury*?
And I bet you don’t want to do all that training and get injured, right?
Let us show you 3 key ways that a good warm up will reduce your chance of injury (to convince you to do it), and then what you should do to warm up effectively.
(note: this is the 3rd in our series of articles for training for a marathon. If you’d like to get the series from the beginning, click here to sign up and you’ll get an email every week with a new piece on a different aspect of marathon training.)
1. Reduces chance of muscle injury
All things being equal (and assuming you’re structurally okay/doing regular conditioning work), a good warm up helps prepare your muscles for training.
It increases blood flow to your muscles, helping to loosen them up so they’re more pliable/less liable to strain. You’ll also get an increase in the flow of oxygen to the muscle cells, i.e., delivery of injury.
2. Helps protect your joints
When you’re warming up, the synovial fluid in your joints will warm up as well.
Synovial fluid in joints lubricates and acts as a shock absorber for the joints, which helps protect them from injury.
3. Helps ‘wake up’ your muscles
An effective warm-up includes taking your joints/muscles through their range of movement, and even includes drills that mimic running movements.
This helps wake up the connection from your brain to your muscles, and encourages them to fire/recruit muscles correctly during your run.
If you’re using the correct muscles in your training, including supporting muscles, you reduce your chance of overuse injury due to over-recruitment of some muscles and under of others.
So… what makes a good warm up?
Now you know why you should be warming up, what should you be doing?
Generally speaking you want to take your joints through a full range of movements (pain-free range, by the way). We recommend:
Shoulder rolls (forwards and backwards)
External hip rotation (standing on one leg)
Ankle circles (standing on one leg)
Heel & calf raises
Aim for 10 of each.
If you’re short for time and want to challenge your coordination, a couple of the above can be combined (try this at your own risk – the last thing you want is to injure yourself in a warm-up you’re doing to reduce your chance of injury!!)
Try completing 10 repetitions per exercise before you start your run.
You can also include some optional drills like bum kicks and high knee lifts – these help wake up your running muscles even more by mimicking natural running movements.
One part of your warm-up should get your heart rate up.
You can do this by adding an easier-paced run at the front of your training run, after you’ve done the warm-up movements we’ve described above.
This warm-up run will vary whether you’re doing your interval, tempo, or long run. The general idea is to start at an easy pace and work up to your target pace for about a mile.
This post is part of our 3m2m marathon training series. If you’d like to receive these straight to your inbox, click here to sign up and you’ll get an email every week with a new piece on a different aspect of marathon training.
This post has been drawn from our 3 Months to Marathon First Marathon Running Guide and Repeat Marathon Running Guide, by Katherine Creighton Crook with Michel Glendinning from Thrive Fitness. Click on the links if you’d like to purchase the guides, or click here to purchase from Amazon Kindle.
If you’d like to browse the 3 Months to Marathon range of packages including massage and PT sessions, you can visit 3m2m.co.uk.