Well how important is a warmup ?
You roll out of bed (late as usual) and rock up to your morning run group just as they are starting the hard intervals. So you join in. These guys have spent a good 15 minutes plus warming up at the start of the session but more fool them because you managed to sneak in an extra 15 minutes of glorious undisturbed sleep.
And then you start running. And your legs won’t work. You feel weary. Your breathing is hard and you get a niggle. Suddenly that extra sleepy time doesn’t feel so good and you start to question how beneficial that warm up could have been.
We’ve all been there, we’ve all neglected the warm up, however warming up is crucial especially before a hard session or a race, yes we know its coming into the winter now and racing is drawing to a close but as it gets colder and you start your winter training and might just want to get on with it, don’t…make sure you warm up first!
Warming up correctly has numerous benefits and can lead to a decreased risk of injuries because it eases the body into the activity, preparing it for (hard) exercise. We have put a good list below, and you might not think it’s worth reading them all but knowing that a warm up helps with all the below should help reinstall the fact you should be doing one!
- Increasing mobility of the connective tissue and reducing the chance of soft tissue (ligament, tendon and muscle) injuries by allowing the muscles and joints to move through a greater range of motion easily and safely.
- Increasing the range of movement.
- Increasing cardiovascular response to sudden strenuous exercise and decreased sensitivity of muscle stretch.
- Increasing the blood flow to the muscles which prepares them for the workout to come.
- Increasing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, which helps control the breathing and stops you getting too out of breath too early or easily.
- Preparing the heart gradually for an increase in activity, helping to avoid a rapid increase in blood pressure.
- Prime the nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for exercise, which can improve the quality of your workout.
- Improving coordination and reaction times.
- Increasing the blood temperature which can allow you to train harder or for longer.
- Prompts hormonal changes in the body which are responsible for regulating energy production.
Who knew skipping that extra 15 minutes in bed could be so beneficial?! So many of use fail to warm up and in turn don’t get the best out of our sessions and increase our chances of injury.
Generally speaking a warm up would consist of some mobility work and have an aerobic element aswell. For example a 5-10 minute mobility routine to loosen off, followed by 5-10 minute easy jogging/spinning followed by a few faster efforts to get the heart and lungs ready. These could be a set of strides, 4 x 60-80m building the pace throughout the distance to prepare the body for the session to come.
Once you have done an aerobic warm up it may also be beneficial to include some drill or technique work to get the specific muscles activated and engaged. This might be something you do already but if not and would like to understand how to do running drills then drop us a message and we can send you for free a full run drill technique session that we use with our athletes – email us at email@example.com
For swimming this would be the same with a few pool side mobility movements before a steady swim for 100-300m then into some drill work to focus on technique, before doing a few short 25 or 50metre efforts before starting the main set.
So to conclude, everybody warms up differently and it may take a bit of experimenting to find out what works for you and adequately prepares your body for work without tiring it out. So next time your considering snoozing and missing the warm up think twice!
The moral to this short article – do your warm up, find what works for you and then use that for training and racing. Happy experimenting!
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