Optimizing Your Warm Up

Optimizing Your Warm Up

As an endurance athlete, you have probably performed or have been told to perform some type of warm up prior to initiating exercise. Sure, you can type “warm up” into your chosen search bar to find the newest trend in warm up activities but how to do you know which type best suits your needs? The warm up that you choose should be specific to you and this post will give you insight into how you can tailor your warm up!

To make your warm up specific to you, it will take some self-assessment. Usually the exercises that are the most challenging for you are the exercises that should be focused on the most. During this warm up period, it is imperative to work towards optimizing your positions that directly affect your running gait.

Before we make the warm up specific to you, it is important to understand some general benefits that all pre-workout activities should include.

1.       To increase heart rate and body temperature

2.       To prepare the muscles and joints for higher intensity activities

3.       To activate muscles that improve movement quality and decrease the risk of injury

All three benefits can usually be achieved within similar movement patterns and exercises. Anything that is included in your warm up should have a clear rationale, and we should avoid the often mindless “going through the motion” activities.  The warm up phase should warrant as much attention to detail as the run or workout to follow.

Warm up and movement preparation can last anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes in duration. Sequencing (as seen below) should begin with low intensity and increase into short bouts of moderate intensity activity. This usually begins with a ground based warm up followed by more dynamic movements along with short bouts of moderate intensity running or running drills.

Warm Up Phases and Descriptions:

1.       Ground Based Exercises are lower level, controlled exercises that are usually performed on the ground. During the ground based portion, the goal is to activate/align the core and to prepare the body for faster, more dynamic movements. This is accomplished by addressing any range of motion limitations or sub-optimal movement patterns unique to you.

2.       Dynamic Warm Up consists of more upbeat, fluid motions that are higher level and more closely resemble your running form. Goals are to increase the heart rate and prepare the muscles/joints for the upcoming workout.

The intensity and duration of the warm up phase is dictated by your workout to follow. Usually a longer or more intense run (tempo or interval training) is preceded by a more detailed warm up/movement preparation period. A shorter warm up is designated for an easy, recovery run. Ideally, the warm up is something that should be completed prior to every run.

Check back next week for detailed information on soft tissue work and some videos outlining some examples!