Warm weather is finally upon us and many of you may be anxious to start changing up your workout routine. You may be ready to be in the gym LESS and in the sun MORE – I know I am! That being said, there are many warm, sunny days to come and you may feel extra motivated to go out for a run. It’s time efficient, you’ll get some vitamin D, and you’ll feel great after…or at least that’s the goal. I am all about outdoor workouts but I have to emphasize the importance of warming up, something many of us tend to neglect.
Let’s talk about the benefits. Doing a proper warmup allows adequate blood flow to all the muscles you will be using, while also lubricating the joints with synovial fluid which helps absorb the impact of running. Warming up causes a gradual increase in heart rate, preparing you to sustain a steady pace further on into your run. You may even find you don’t burn yourself out as fast and your muscles recover a little quicker.
Start out with a brisk walk. This will bring your muscles through the proper range of motion for the run to come and will fire up all the right muscles. After about five minutes start to pick up the pace and jog at an easy pace for about two minutes. After about 5-7 minutes, your core temperature has risen and the blood has entered the working muscles. Now try these three dynamic stretches to complete the warm-up:
- Stepping Lunge
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping chest lifted and core engaged the entire time, step your right foot forward and bend your left knee, shifting your weight into your right foot. Go as far as you can, making sure your knee does not go further than your toes and your hips stay square. Hold for 2-3 seconds and then step into a lunge on your other leg. Aim for ten on each leg.
- Leg Flexor Stretch
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Keeping good posture, extend your left arm forward while bringing your right knee to 90 degrees in front of you. Extend your leg so that it is parallel to the ground, really focusing on engaging your quads. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Aim for 3 sets of 10 on each leg.
- Plantar Flexor
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Extend your right foot out in front of you and lift your foot off the ground. Point your toes straight out, staying in line with the knee. Reverse the movement by flexing your foot and pointing your toes up towards the sky. Perform ten repetitions and repeat on your left leg.
-Taylor St. Cyr, Exercise Physiologist at Dedham Health