Should you warm up before running?
So you've laced up the runners, & are ready to go. But before taking that first step, do you need to "Warm-up", do some stretches? In this blog, we discuss the use of warm-ups in runners.
Should you stretch?
Despite common belief amongst runners, current evidence suggests that static stretching before running DOES NOT have a positive effect on running performance OR injury risk. It is also ineffective to reduce Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
In fact, static stretching before running can even impair running performance. On the other hand, static stretching after or separate from training does not impair performance, so runners may choose to do static stretching for other benefits such as mobility or to achieve a positive sensation.
What should you do?
Instead of static stretching, a progressive dynamic warm-up is recommended to improve running performance. An example of a dynamic warm-up routine may look like this:
Up to 10 minutes of easy running
Up to eight lower body movements such as leg swings, lunges or skipping
Up to three different running drills such as A-skips or triple extensions. See how to perform these running drills here.
Three short 100m efforts building up to the speed to be done in training or a race
Having said this, every runner is different. Some runners do better with a more extensive warm-up, others do better with a shorter routine. The key is to try something for a number of weeks, then change it up to compare how you feel after each type of warm-up.
When should you do it?
Most running sessions for runners are easy runs already. For easy sessions, the first km or two already acts as a warm-up so this warm-up routine is not necessary. Having said that, it doesn't hurt to warm up before an easy run if you want to get in some plyometric sets and 'skip' the sluggish first 1-2kms of a run. Before quality sessions or races, these warm-up drills generally make a noticeable difference and are therefore recommended.