The importance of warming up adequately cannot be stressed enough: jumping into a fast run from a sedentary state is the chief cause behind several common injuries, sprains and muscle pulls. But injury prevention is not the only reason for those 10-15 minutes of active stretching that many of us find boring.
A systematic round of warm up drills not only helps increase your range of motion, it also generates heat to keep your muscles and ligaments elastic. Dynamic drills raise your heart rate in a methodical manner while activating your aerobic system. Simply put, a thorough warm up ensures that you don’t burn out halfway into your half marathon. These 5 handpicked warm-up exercises combine active and static workouts, and are specially designed to keep you going right past the finish line.
High Knees Stretch
A dynamic stretch, this drill maintains flexibility in your hip flexors and gets them ready for the run ahead. To do this, begin by standing tall. Flex your hip and knee to bring your right knee up toward your chest as you swing your left arm forward. Lower to the ground, then repeat on the other leg. Do a total of 20 reps.
Hold onto a sturdy stationary object, stand on one leg and swing the other leg forward and back. Do this 20 times. Then swing that same leg side to side 20 times. Each swing should build until your leg is close to its full range of motion. This dynamic stretch helps increase your range, improves hip mobility, and also increases core stability and balance.
Not only do walking lunges open up the major muscle groups you’ll be using during your run — the quads and hip flexors — but they also simulate the forward motion of running, which makes them particularly useful as a warm-up stretch
Stand with your feet together and take a long step forward with your right foot. Bend the front knee to 90 degrees and the back knee until it almost touches the floor. Stay here for a few seconds and work to straighten the back leg so you feel a stretch through the front of your left thigh. Then, rise up and take a big step forward with your left knee to get the stretch on your left side. Continue this way for about 10 lunges.
Your calf muscles are at work from the moment you foot leaves the ground during running by constantly contracting to facilitate this. This simple dynamic calf stretch adds more strength and power to them.
Stand on the edge of a stair facing in, so that only the balls of your feet are on the stair and your heels are hanging over the edge. Hold onto a stair rail for balance, if necessary. Rise up on your toes, and then slowly lower your heels so that they come below the stair and you feel a stretch through your calf muscle. Hold the stretch for a moment and then rise up again and repeat.
Butt kicks are an effective warm-up exercise for runners who are trying to improve their stride. This exercise intensely works your hamstrings and glutes. Using short steps lift your knees slightly and try to bring your heel directly under your butt—not behind—with each stride. Alternate legs rapidly, and try to build on speed as you go along. Perform two reps of 20 kicks each.