To maximize performance and help prevent injuries it is critical that we prepare our bodies for the sport of running with an adequate warm up. Running is a dynamic, high impact activity. Although it may appear that when running we are only moving in one plane of motion (forward), internally, our joints, bones, muscles, tendons and fascia are actually moving in all three planes of motion (sagittal- forward/backward, frontal- side to side and transverse- rotation). That being said, it only makes sense that before we hit the road, we complete a warm up that looks and feels like running.
Here is a recommended warm up (video linked here):
– Common Lunge Matrix Stretch (a three-dimensional activity that focuses on the three key movement areas of the body: foot/ankle, hips and thoracic spine [trunk]).
– Running Drills (will not only get the body ready for running but are a great way to improve running form, cadence and foot strike).
– Strides (fast running that can be completed before, during or after a run depending on the workout).
Equally important to the warm up is the cool down. The cool down is the start of the recovery process. The focus here will be on completing three-dimensional exercises that will help improve flexibility, mobility and stability. It is also beneficial to complete exercises that will assist in the “calming” down of the sympathetic nervous system (think yoga).
Here is a recommended cool down (video linked here):
– Common Lunge Matrix Stretch (recommended to hold stretches slightly longer for cool down; 5-10 seconds).
– Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
– Restorative Poses (Runner’s Lunge and Child’s Pose with thoracic rotation – see video for more details).