The Best Exercises to Warm Up and Stretch Before and After Running

Let’s face it, we all know that runners aren’t the most disciplined athletes when it comes to warming up and stretching before and after their runs. In other sports, it is something absolutely forbidden, but in the world of running, it seems that starting without warming up and abruptly ending a race without doing anything else is the most normal thing in the world.

The Best Exercises to Warm Up and Stretch Before and After Running
The Best Exercises to Warm Up and Stretch Before and After Running

However, it shouldn’t be like that. Warming up and stretching should be part of any training plan. The warm-up serves to prevent contractions or injuries and prepare the muscles for the effort, and stretching helps your muscles recover afterward. Do you know what else you need for your muscles to recover well? Our Recovery Aminos, provide your body with essential amino acids and rapidly available carbohydrates.

Why is it important to warm up before running?

Always doing a good warm-up before starting to run has many benefits. The most important are:

  • Increased body temperature, leads to improved performance.
  • Improved blood circulation.
  • Improved oxygen absorption.
  • Improved nutrient supply to the muscles.
  • Increased production of joint fluid, which leads to improved cushioning of the bones and friction of the joints.
  • Improved coordination and increased concentration.

In general, all of these benefits mean that you are less likely to sustain an injury and that you can run more efficiently. What does this mean? That your performance also improves. Therefore, it is always worth warming up for at least 5-10 minutes so that your body is ready for the race and can give its best.

How to warm up correctly before you start running

The perfect warm-up for runners is something that doesn’t exist. It will always depend on your level and your goal. But there are a couple of things you always have to keep in mind:

To begin with, the warm-up should prepare you physically and mentally for the race, but it shouldn’t be so intense that it leaves you exhausted.

On the other hand, many people wonder if it is advisable to do static stretching before running. And the answer is a resounding no. It is only recommended to do static stretching to recover after the race, in the cooling phase, which is when our muscles are most fatigued.

When creating your perfect warm-up before your races, think about what you want to do after: if your idea is to do a leisurely run, a general warm-up is enough to activate your body. Conversely, if you’re going to run more intensely or do interval training, it makes more sense for you to do a specific warm-up followed by a 1-2km easy run.

More information: Just as it is very important that you warm up well before you start running, it is also essential that you eat correctly before you go running. Especially in the case of competitions, food is what will define your performance in the race.

The best exercises to warm up before running 

These runner-specific warm-up exercises activate your entire body before your runs. There is no set number of reps you should do. Start slow and keep in mind that you shouldn’t feel exhausted after doing them. On average, 3-5 reps per exercise per side is enough. Do not take more than 5 minutes.

#1 Rotation of ankles and shoulders

Instructions 

  • Place the toe of the foot in a vertical position and, in that position, make 360º turns with the ankle. At the same time, he draws large circles with his arms.
  • Get on one foot, lift one foot slightly off the ground, and circle your foot in the air for a few seconds.

#2 Leg swing forwards and backward

Instructions

  • Stand tall with your legs hip-width apart. Put all your weight on one leg and swing the other leg back and forth a few times.
  • Then do lateral swings passing the leg to the right and the left in front of the other leg.
  • Repeat both exercises on the other side.

#3 Overhead Squat and Incline

Instructions 

  • Squat down and bring your arms up, right next to your ears.
  • Stretch your back as much as you can. Pull from your lower back and put your weight through your heels.
  • Next, grab your toes with your hands and straighten your legs as far as you can, without letting go of your feet.
  • Bend your legs to return to a squat position and repeat the entire exercise from the beginning.

#4 Lunges with rotation

Instructions 

  • Take a wide stride with your right leg, bringing it back and down. When you get as low as you can, hold the position and twist your body to the left. Try to stay as stable as possible.
  • Look straight ahead again and repeat the exercise on the other side.

#5 Side Stretches

Instructions 

  • Stand with your feet wide apart. Press the outside of your feet into the ground to prevent your knees from drawing in.
  • Stretch one arm up, close to your ear, and lean to the opposite side.
  • Do not stop. Go down until you feel the stretch and switch to the other side without stopping.
  • Do the exercise in rhythm with your breath: exhale and go to the side, inhale and return to the center.

ABC exercises to improve running technique

ABC exercises are usually included in the warm-up. However, it is better to do them after you have already done a general warm-up because they require concentration and coordination. In addition, this way you also avoid injuries. These exercises include lateral runs, jump runs, heel-snapping runs, etc.

Why is it important to stretch after running?

Do you finish your degree and go straight home to take a shower? Well, we are sorry to tell you that you are forgetting something essential: stretching.

The cool-down phase is just as important as the warm-up. It helps the mind and body prepare to start recovering after exertion.

Benefits of stretching after a run: 

  • Improved elimination of metabolic waste products, such as lactate.
  • Slow normalization of breathing and heart rate reduces the risk of dizziness or symptoms of overexertion.
  • Slowly reducing muscle tension reduces the risk of muscle cramps.
  • Possible reduction of shoelaces.

Cool down phase after a race: slow down and stretch 

The cool-down phase begins during the race. Don’t stop abruptly; The best thing is that you slow down little by little and that you end up running the last 1-2 km at a lower intensity. If you feel like it, you can also start moving your shoulders and wrists to release tension.

This also helps you relax mentally. The body and the mind work together and your muscles will only be able to recover if you also give your brain a break.

When you finish the race, it is the turn of static exercises to stretch the muscles. As well as mobility training and exercises to take care of the muscle fascia, static exercises also help you improve mobility. This is especially important to avoid injury. If you have a few minutes left after static stretching, these 5 foam roller exercises are ideal for taking care of your mobility.

Do you like to relax completely after running? Then a visit to the sauna or a very hot bath will come in handy.

The best stretches for after running 

These runner-specific stretches are perfect for preparing your body to recover after your runs. They reduce muscle tone, especially in the muscles used for running, and improve flexibility.

Do each exercise on both sides of your body, and don’t forget to breathe deeply as you do them. Try to stay stable and focus on your joints. Do each stretch for 20-30 seconds.

#1 Quadriceps Stretch

Instructions

  • Find a stable posture. In order not to fall, you can hold on to something or someone with your hand.
  • Lift your leg back and, at the height of the buttock, hold the ball of the foot.
  • Hold for a few seconds in this position, pulling the foot and contracting the abdomen.

#2 Hip Stretch

Instructions

  • Bring one leg back as far as you can and place your knee on the floor. He puts his hands on the knee of the other leg, which should be just above the ankle, at a 90º angle.
  • Inhale and with each exhalation bring your hips forward a little more.
  • Consciously roll your shoulders back and down. Relax and open your upper body.

#3 Side Half Squat

Instructions

  • Stand tall with your feet apart. Stretch your right leg out to the side and bend your left leg as far as you can. Shift your center of gravity to the left until you feel the stretch in your right leg.
  • Try not to bring your knee in. If you need help, you can put your hands on the ground.

#4 Calf Stretch

Instructions

  • Look for a ladder, a sidewalk, or something similar. Place the ball of your foot on the edge and push your heel down until you feel the calf stretch.

#5 Side Stretch

Instructions

  • Cross your right leg in front of your left and place your feet side by side until they touch. The toes should be at the same height.
  • Straighten your left leg and slightly bend your right leg, which is the one that should bear most of your weight.
  • Stretch your right arm up, placing it next to your ear. Push your hips to the right and pull your arms overhead to the left until you feel a stretch on your entire right side.
  • Breath deeply. Repeat the exercise on the left side.

Conclusions

  • Warming up and stretching after running helps you avoid injuries and improve performance.
  • To warm up properly before running, you only need about 5-10 minutes.
  • In addition to warming up and stretching, nutrition is also very important for runners. What you eat before and after the race is key to your performance.

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