The nest instalment in our new Running series is all about Warming up. You can catch up on the previous post on Strength training prescription for runners here. is an essential component before any kind of workout, however running warm ups often consist of either just a lighter jog or static stretches. Static stretching is where the muscle is lengthened to the point light tension is felt and the position is held there for around 30 seconds. This was previously thought to reduce risk of injury if completed prior to sports.
Running has a high rate of overuse injuries due to the constant, repetitive, and high impact loading sustained that is often progressed too fast or excess the capacity of the tissue to adapt to this loading. Stretching muscles to beyond their normal limits does not assist in supporting this load, and the joints are not required to extend to this level of flexibility in running.
An active warm up is now prescribed prior to running to better prepare the body for running and can improve run performance. Dynamic stretches of 5-30 seconds increase joint mobility and can reduce muscle-tendon stiffness. Progressive warm up drills also increase body temperature, stimulate metabolic changes, neural effects, and psychological effects of preparing for the session. Below is a suggested format that may help warm up prior to running.
An active warm up plan for runners:
- 5-10 minutes gentle walk/jog – to generate heat & running mobility
- 6-8 dynamic movement drills – to prepare the body for increased movement and stimulate & activate the required muscles
- 3 short efforts of goal run pace eg 3x100m – to further prepare the body for increased efforts
Suggested dynamic movement drills:
These videos demonstrate the exercises that will activate the required muscles prior to running. These are grouped by similar exercise and aim.
Video 1: Squats, heel raises, foot series
The squats are performed with a slight forward lean. This is to encourage angel dorsiflexion (bend) which is required in running, so activating the muscles required to control your (slight) forward running posture. The heel raises promote the rolling through the sole of the foot to mobilise the whole sole surface and promote better push off with the toes to drive forwards on the run. The foot series coordinates the actions of the hips, knees, and ankles in the way we need for running efficiently and effectively utilising the whole lower limb.
Video 2: Standing clam, single leg deadlift, standing swimming
Standing clams activate our gluteal muscles, especially the outer/lateral hip muscles which are essential to controlling our pelvis. Single leg deadlifts encourage balance, ankle control and stability, and hamstring/gluteal activations. Standing swimming work the whole posterior chain (back of the body) to encourage hip extension and good upright posture.
Br J Sports Med. Nov 2019. 10.1136/bjsports-2019-101169 on 6 November 2019