Why are pre-run warm-ups so important?

Think of how you feel when you start running or training. For the first 10-15mins (depending on each individuals), our body is struggling to get more oxygen, we’re in oxygen debt. At first it feels unpleasant, but once it triggers the mechanisms that reverse it, we start feeling better, with more energy. When we go from resting to running, our performance level is controlled by complex chemical and hormonal pathways which is activated once the body detects it’s struggling. That is when our muscles start screaming for oxygen. But suddenly our heart pumps faster and stronger to speed up and increase the circulating blood flow. Then, before we know it, we start feeling good, our breathing quickens to get as much oxygen in as possible. We can’t avoid the first challenging 10 mins, it’s part of our biology. Doing a proper pre-run warm up will not eliminate the first struggling 10 mins, but it will prepare our heart and lungs for the increased effort to come and warm up our muscles and joints to increase their flexibility in order to make it less challenging.
Benefits of a pre-run warm-up:
1.Improves the elasticity of connective tissue.
2.Prepares our lungs for increased effort.
3.Increases the blood flow to the muscles.
4.Increases gradually the body temperature.
5.Releases the joints.
6.Activates the neural pathway (communication line between the nervous system and the muscular system to get the body ready for activity).
7.Warms-up our mind (stimulates cognitive pathways, putting us in the right frame of mind to perform well.
Including a 5-10 min warm-up will loosen up the joints, warm up the muscles, increase the tissue’s flexibility, prepare our heart and lungs. Warming up the muscles and joints is very important, a muscle is more pliable once it’s warm, which will perform better during the run. Specific exercises to activate the core and glutes will fire them up for running.
Joints also benefit from the warm-up. The fluid which cushions and lubricates a joint is called synovial fluid, lining the joint surface. Moving and warming up the joints, encourages circulation of the synovial fluid, similar to oiling an engine, so all the joints perform more smoothly, stiffness eases and the range of motion of the joints increases.
To activate the neural pathway is one of the most important elements of the warm-up. Our nervous system plays an important part in coordinating the rate and effectiveness of contraction and relaxation of our muscles. Warming up our nervous system will improve the joint position awareness and joint stability which has been shown to prevent lower limb injuries.
Warming up our mind can trigger a positive chain reaction and boost our performance. Take a few minutes to focus on your goals, and remind yourself of your strength and capabilities to get yourself in right zone for your run.
Warm-up routine:
Creating our own warm-up routine makes it easier to get going, focus on our tighter muscles and less flexible joints, we can flow through the routine and enjoy the gradual warm-up. It is important to warm up with dynamic stretches, static stretches have not been found to be effective for warming up the muscles and joints. Focus on dynamic stretches that will active the glutes, core, increase the blood flow and oxygen levels by raising the heart rate gradually.
Warm-up exercises:
-Walking lunges, reverse lunges, side lunges
-Hip circles
-Leg swings
-Calf raise
-High Knees (engaging the core to bring the knees up)
-Butt kicks
-Arm circles to release the shoulders and torso
Find the dynamic stretches that work for you according to individual needs, and enjoy the pre-run warm-up to get your body and mind ready to go for a great run.

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