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Warm-up & warm-down: If you are not doing either before and after your run ... you should be.

Warm-ups and warm-downs are as important as the running itself, here is why...

A solid warm-up helps dilate our blood vessels ensuring that our muscles are well supplied with oxygen and raises our body and muscle temperature for increased flexibility and efficiency.

A warm-up also increases our heart-rate by bringing it up or very close to your starting training rate which minimises stress on your heart when you start.

The warm-down after training keeps our blood and oxygen flowing to muscles for optimal recovery.

It is important that you warm-up and warm-down properly to avoid injury and maximise the benefit, so here are five pointers -

Before your run

1. Active warm up: This phase aims to elevate body temperature, heart-rate, respiration rate, blood flow and joint fluid viscosity via low intensity activities. For example, jogging, running on the spot and star jumps all elevate your heart-rate.

2. Mobility drills: Include these in your active warm-ups to get a full range of motion to reduce the risk of injury. These include skipping, high knee raises and sidestep drills.

3. Heart rate increase: To get your heart rate close to training/race speed, jog for a minute or two and slowly increase your speed to around your training or race speed. If you are in race mode aim for some short sprints 50-200 in length.

After your run

4. Walk/jog warm-down: Walk five to ten minutes once you have finished to slowly start bringing your heart-rate down to resting and keep your muscles moving so they don't seize up.

5. Post-training stretching: Focus on the key muscle groups i.e. quads, hamstrings and calves. Stretch each one for around 30 seconds and repeat two or three times.

As always, listen to your body. If there's something that's doesn’t feel right e.g. a niggle, a twinge or you are just not feeling right, get it checked out by a qualified Physio or health practitioner.

📷 Fatema El-Wakeel

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