It is important to prepare the body for your workout, by starting with some sport specific drills. A proper warm up should increase your body temperature and activate key muscle groups. This brings blood flow to those muscles to ensure they are well supplied with oxygen. The increase in body temperature allows for improvement in the extensibility of the connective tissues which decreases the risk of injury.
A gradual increase in heart rate puts less stress on your heart and body compared to jumping right into the workout. Taking 10 mins ahead of your workout can improve your mobility, reduce risk of injury, and help you run/exercise longer with less muscle fatigue.
A warm up should include dynamic exercises that increase in intensity as you get closer to the workout. A dynamic stretch is an active movement that goes through the muscles full range of motion. These stretches are not held in a specific position. Some examples of dynamic stretches are toe walks, heel walks, leg swings, side lunges, pick the daisies, high knees, butt kicks, karaoke.
*Static stretching beforehand is only suggested if it will change the muscle length and significantly impact biomechanics (if you’re really tight). Multiple studies have concluded that static stretching prior has a negative influence on speed, strength, and strength endurance, and may even increase the risk of injury.
Ideal warm up = short jog, then dynamic stretches (2-3 sets), few strides then you’re good to go!
It is also important to maintain the blood flow to those fatigued muscles. Stopping suddenly will cause a rapid drop in both heart rate and blood pressure. This can lead to dizziness or light-headedness. Gradually decrease heart rate with a slow jog to walk then targeted stretching.
Running drills such as ABCD (skips & runs) target the different components of a running stride/cycle. This prepares muscles for the miles ahead by initiating movement specific patterning and muscle sequencing. Improving the gait cycle will help with running form and efficiency. Adding these before getting into a slower paced jog/run before ramping up can be helpful.
If you have had an injury in the past or are coming back from an injury, ask your physiotherapist about activation exercises that might help you initiate a muscle of interest prior to your run.