The guidelines for warm ups and cool downs have changed a bit over the years.
The idea of a warmup is to give your muscles and joints a chance to get ready for performance gradually and gently. It should help your heart rate gradually increase so that you can head out for your run safely and ready to go.
While many people will ask me what stretches they should do before a run, we really want to focus more on a dynamic warm-up vs. static stretching.
New research over the past 5-10 years has substantiated the idea that dynamic warm-ups better prepare us for subsequent performance.
Specifically, we have seen that dynamic stretching:
- Increases power both vertical jump height and long jump distance
- Improves sprint performance
- Improves running performance
Additional studies have shown that static stretching before a workout:
- Decreases lower body power
- Decreases sprint performance
- Decreases jump height and distance
Static stretching still has its place for athletes, especially ones that demonstrate specific deficiencies, but it seems best to maximize these gains post-run. Static stretching is still shown to improve both range of motion and flexibility.
Dynamic warm-ups often include any to all of the following:
- Walking lunge variations (rotation, side bending, forward walk vs backward)
- Knee to chest
- Toe touch hamstring kicks
- Lateral shuffle
- Lateral leg swings
- Straight leg hip swings
- Hip/knee/ankle rockers
- Walking/slow jogging
- Butt kicks
- Foam rolling/tennis ball MFR
With that said, I combine my favorite moves from yoga and traditional fitness/therapy as listed above into one short 3-minute warm-up. I will say sometimes I do foam roll or run my arches over tennis ball first, especially if I'm feeling stiff and sore. But with or without the myofascial release, give this routine a try before your next run and and see how you feel!
PS if you'd like to snag my post-run cool down stretch practice I'd be happy to send it to you! Just click on the button below