In this article, we discuss the importance of a warm-up session, why is it required, what should be the ideal duration of a warm-up, what muscle groups should we warm-up before our runs and what does a typical warm-up look like.
At times, some of us get tempted to jump straight into our main workout without spending adequate time on warming up our muscles. Repeating an already known fact: A proper and a thorough warm-up is essential before we get started with our main workout.
Here’s why warm-ups are critical: It minimises sports related injury and helps in enhancing our workout performance. Our muscles become loose and supple, thereby, reducing the risk of muscle pulls and strains.
Let’s look at why we need a warm-up in the first place.
A fundamental, non-negotiable phase of our pre-workout journey is where we are waking up our muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and preparing our heart, mind, body for the load that our muscles are going to take up. Never skip a warm-up to save time. In case we are short on time, reduce the run by 1-2 km, but never compromise on warm-up time.
Warm-up increases the blood flow to the heart and the exercising muscles, raising the muscle temperature, gets the sweat early on for distributing the greater flow of oxygen that our muscles require at the time of the run.
Finally, the warm-up phase prepares our cardiovascular system, respiratory system, nervous system and the musculoskeletal system for the forthcoming physical activity – a workout or a run.
A warm-up process will typically have three phases:
Phase 1: Mobilisation
It’s when we mobilise each and every key muscle groups that we will be engaging in our run. These are: Calf, glutes, hamstrings, quads, IT band, lower back and others such as neck, ankle and arms. These are usually done through dynamic stretches. This phase aims at improving the mobility and elasticity of the muscles.
Phase 2: Glute Activation
This is very crucial as glute muscles are the largest muscle group in our body and are crucial for our posture and movement. The power that we derive for better movement and performance are largely due to strong glutes. Hence doing activation exercises as part of the warm-up can pay rich dividends.
Typical glute activation exercises are: Fire hydrants, donkey kicks, clam shells, squats and glute bridges. This phase aims at ensuring that our muscles are fired-up and engaged well.
Phase 3: Elevating Heart Rate
Heart rate can be elevated by starting low intensive activities such as butt kicks, mountain climbers, high knees for about 10-15 seconds or one can include a slow jog for 5-7 minutes. This phase aims at engaging specific neuromuscular mechanisms for activities immediately after the warm-up session.
All is you need is 10 -15 minutes for warm-up. Here are some warm-up exercises that one can include: