Why running shouldn't be your 'warm-up'
We’ve all done it. We’re behind schedule or feeling lazy, so we just hop on the treadmill and do a “light 5 minute run” for our warm-up. Maybe follow it up with some toe touches and arm swings if we’re feeling really keen. This tactic could cause more harm than benefit before the workout begins.
“But after running my body is warm. It's a warm up. I’m warmed up!”
I know, I know - and that’s true. But we want to go into movement preparations beforehand, particularly ones that you will be performing in the workout and even some foam rolling.
Alright, so how is a movement prep and foam roll getting you warmed up for your workout when a simple run gets you warmer?
The proper warm up should obviously do just that - get you warm, but more importantly a warm up should consist of some muscle activation for the under active muscles. The glutes (your butt) is one of the most under active muscles in a general population. So the butt, is a good start.
Along with engaging some weaker muscles you will want to increase some flexibility in muscles that get shortened (tight), while going about your day-to-day business. Joint lubrication plays a role with flexibility as well. We want those joints gliding smoothly while we put external stress on our bodies. Quite annoying to have “achy knees” or “grindy shoulders” while running, squatting or pressing right?
Having prepped muscles and lubricated joints also comes with increased blood flow. We know that blood carries oxygen throughout our body. This is important for getting the body warm, while also giving the body that feeling of being more awake.
Out of all the reasons listed, the biggest importance behind a proper warm-up is injury prevention.
All the above mentioned put your body in a ready state of physical activity, which greatly lowers your risk of injury. It really sucks when you're motivated, ready to start a new fitness program, just to get hurt and take 3 weeks off.
Proper warm-ups all are about prevention. One of the best analogies I’ve heard came from my friend, and fitness expert Jessie Mundell, “Would you start driving your car without letting it warm up in the middle of an Edmonton deep freeze? Answer: NO. Don’t treat your car better than your body.”
“Alright Shane, but how do I really perform a proper warm-up?”
Listed below is a typical warm-up routine that anyone with no limitations can typically perform. A warm-up shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes.
1. SMR (self-myofacial release)
The muscles targeted here are typically tight muscles -- the quads, pecs and lats
For more on this particular method, click here.
2. Kneeling Hip Flexor :
You will want to get into a half kneeling or what I like to refer to as the “proposal stance”.
Get down on one knee resting on the floor (or a foam pad for comfort), the other leg forward with the knee at 90 degrees. You will let want to contract the glute on the same side as the knee touching the floor, to help get a more effective stretch in the front of that hip.
3. Glute Bridges :
Lying flat on your back, with the small of your back pressing into the floor, ribs down engaging the core. You will then squeeze the glutes and raise the hips. Engaging the glutes first, will help from having the erector spinae (low back) from doing the work.
4. Thoracic Spine Rotations:
You will want to get down into the classic “fetal position”, bring both arms extended forward with palms touching.
Squeezing the knees together you will then bring your top arm up and rotate around to the opposite side. The head will then follow that arm - doing this will have the cervical spine and thoracic spine going in the same direction.
Try to get the shoulder as close to the floor as possible. Hold for a few deep breathes and then return the arm back to start. Repeat for desired rep numbers and then perform the same for other arm.
5. Lateral lunges : Take one step out to the side bending that moving knee. Sit slightly back onto that hip. Think of it as making an, "L" shape motion. First part is the back of the letter, second part is the bottom of the letter.
6. Body weight squats : Perform your standard body weight squat (weight on the heels, push through heels, toes down, chest up).
7. Jump squats : If you have no knee pain and can perform compact movements perform these only asking to keep the chest up and contact quiet and light (ninja jumps).
8. Arm rotations: Standing upright rotate your arms forward in circular motions, and repeat in backward circular motions.
If you have any questions, please email here.