When you were a kid, running around in the streets, riding your bike, playing sports – you never thought once about “warming up” beforehand to prevent injury.
So why worry about it now?
There are plenty of reasons why warming up before some type of activity is important for just about everyone. The reason that adults may need this a little more is that children tend to lead a more active lifestyle consistently. They also have newer joints/muscles that have not suffered the wear and tear that an adult’s may have.
Of course there may be other reasons as well, but none-the-less, warm ups become increasingly important.
A recent study in Australia, has shown that by doing some low intensity, low weight bearing exercises can not only help prevent injuries due to “cold” muscles but may also help increase performance!
The researchers are still trying to understand why warming up could actually improve performance, but in the meantime it is important to realize that warming up can give you the needed lift to have a great run. This is true especially when you first start running.
How should you warm up? How long? How intense? These are all great questions and ones that are best using trial and error with your own body as there is no current consensus on what is the magic warm up for running (or other sports).
There have been studies that have shown that warming up too much may have a negative effect on your performance. This study, published in The Journal of Applied Physiology gave professional cyclists and opportunity to do their normal warm up (that was usually at a high intensity) one day, while doing a lower intensity warming up session the next day they train. The researchers found that these higher intensity warm ups tired the muscles to a point where they were essentially training before they were training!
The overall important takeaway is to make sure that your muscles and joints feel loose and your heart rate is slightly elevated but try not to fatigue yourself to the point where you are training before you even started!
Looking for warm up ideas? Try these common stretches and warm ups for runners.