Of the many mistakes I’ve made in my years of running (cough attempting to run without a sports bra when I forgot one…painful) the one thing that’s always been part of my routine is a warm up.
They’re both pretty basic and designed largely to warm up my muscles, but not waste time because well…I think that’s’ why most runners completely skip the warm up. Time.
None the less it’s SO FREAKING important. Read all about WHY you MUST warm up here.
Working with a performance coach after surgery, I realized that I could actually take my running up a notch by improving the quality of my warm up. Again, I know, you don’t feel like you have time.
BUT, what if a better warm up:
- Allows you to run faster with the same effort
- Ensures you remain injury free
- Allows you to run farther with the same effort
- Helps you to engage more muscles
- Helps to prevent muscle imbalances
- Improves post workout recovery
Well, shucks when you point out all those things it seems like the elite runners might just be on to something with their more advanced warm up. In fact, is this one of the things that sets them apart? Probably.
You can still follow the quickie dynamic warm up that I shared, but I’m upping my game!
Glute Activation Warm Up
I’ve recorded a lot of the moves that are now included in my warm up for a very specific reason: glute activation!!!
Most of us don’t realize how shut down our glutes are from hours of sitting every day. Ensuring they’re active prior to running means you’ll get more force, your hips are less likely to be overworked and you’ll almost automatically run faster.
Goals of a good warm up:
- Muscle specificity to the activity
- Increase blood flow to muscles
- Improve muscle activation
- Prepare the body for movement
- NOT static stretching, we don’t want to lengthen muscles
The GENERAL warm up I’ve been using for years is still a great option. It’s kept me injury free and works well, but a little more specificity is taking things to the next level!
Descriptions of the glute activation exercises you’re seeing in the video.
March in Place
Practicing foot landing right below the body, which is what we want during the run. Often we’re landing ahead of the body, but the best form is right below your core, so this helps you get used to finding your center of gravity. As you continue the warm up you can progress to moving the march forward and back or picking up speed, but ALWAYS feet landing under the center of your body.
Skips with Swing
Lightly skip back and forth while swinging your arms around the body like a full hug. We neglect that our arms are a big part of the run, so get them going too.
High Knees/Butt Kicks
If you practice these while moving forward that’s awesome, you’ll be focused on the movement and landing your foot right beneath the body. When space doesn’t permit, it’s ok to do in place for 20 reps.
Reverse Lunge/Side Lunge
Slow and steady, focus on both feet pointing forward and really pushing off the moving leg to get back to your starting position. We’re now moving in to focused muscle activation.
With band around knees, squat down with butt back and chest up. Slowly walk forward while maintaining the same knee width and without bringing your butt up. After 20 steps, walk backwards. (Really hard to keep your knees out at the same width!!) This is going to start waking up your glutes.
Banded Knee Rotations
Continuing with firing up the glutes and the hips. Band around knees, squat down with knees hip width apart and chest up. Keeping left knee stable, rotate right knee in as far as you can and then all the way back out. 8 reps, then do other side, then do both knees at the same time. (if you aren’t burinng, you aren’t doing it right!)
World’s Greatest Stretch
It might seem like a static stretch, but it’s not because you’re constantly flowing through the movements.
Take a LARGE step forward with right foot in to a lunge.
Bend to place both hands inside your right leg and then rotate to right hand up in the air.
Place hands back down on both sides of right leg, bend left leg to get a hip flexor stretch.
Straighten left leg again, then straighten right leg with toes up to stretch hamstrings.
Bend both legs, placing left knee on ground and pushing up through the right leg.
Repeat on left leg.
4 times each side Inch Worm
Bend over and place hands on ground, walk out to a plank.
Go in to a push up, you can go down to knees to get good form.
From a full plank position, tap your left shoulder with right hand and right shoulder with left hand, do NOT let hips move.
From plank position, keep hands on floor and start to walk feet to hands.
Start to walk back out once you’ve walked as far as you can.
I’ve repeated this ad naseum, but studies show that 5-10 minutes of walking have resulted in runner farther with less effort. If you’re really ready to go then jog lightly…yes JOG…as in really slow and easy compared to your normal run pace.
I hope this gives you some new ideas to start waking up those glutes. If you’ve never gone to work with a performance coach, running coach or anyone else like that…trust me you’ll get so much more than I can share in one post!
Just a few sessions of doing this with Aaron at Panther Physical Therapy, along with some form drills has already had an impact on my running. And I’m recovering from surgery! Imagine what a difference they’ll make when my legs are all back to 100%.
How much time do you give to a warm up?
Which move can you add in this week?
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