The thing most runners are guilty of under-planning and not often performing. Rare in most commercial gyms too, the warm-up is actually a really important part of each programme. Here’s why:
Warm-up is literally true. We want an increase in internal body temperature to improve fluid movement round the body and transportation of important energy substrates. We also need the temperature in our joints to increase, improving our joint mobility and function.
Heart rate increase will enhance our ability to get oxygen and blood to where it’s required more quickly.
Movement practice; the more repetitions of a good quality movement we perform, the more we solidify our technique. Warm-ups are a great chance to improve our learning.
Mobility. The pliability of our tissues increase with movement and temperature so we literally get better as we warm up. We can use more range and depth and reap the added benefits later on.
Enhanced muscle activity (again in part due to higher temperature) means that we can produce more force after a good warm-up and therefore be more effective runners, stronger in the gym and generally get more out of training.
So what makes a good warm-up? Quick 3mins on the treadmill? Well no, but thats a good place to start. RAMP became a popular term within strength and conditioning circles when first coined by Ian Jefferies in 2007 and helps us structure a great warm-up.
Raise - heart rate, temperature (perhaps a short run or cycle)
Activate - muscles and central nervous system (maybe some band walks or short planks)
Mobilise - Joints and ranges about to be used (dynamic stretches and foam rolling could work well here)
Potentiate - Enhance activation of the neuromuscular system (improve mind/muscle connection through exercises like pogos and hops)
Our warm-up should address the above areas whilst being fairly specific to the activity we are about to undertake. For example, if you are going to be running sprints, some explosive or plyometric warm-up drills could help. Whereas if you are going to be running on uneven ground you may spend time mobilising your ankles then doing activation work like hops in various directions.
Important factors include:
Don’t over do it! We are trying to facilitate a better workout NOT add more work for the sake of it. We want to avoid fatiguing the very things we need to stimulate.
Spend between 5 and 10mins on a warm-up, gradually moving from general to workout specific.
Keep it dynamic and movement based rather than static stretching - we will be talking about this on its own very soon!
If you’ve got any other questions don’t hesitate to get in touch!
By Alex Adams