The Proper Warm-Up: Dynamic Stretching
For the most part, we perform better at almost anything after warming up. The questions then become, how do I best maximize my warm-up time for optimal running performance? What am I even really doing by warming up? When you are warming up you are increasing your cardiac output and blood flow to the muscles that are to be used during your training session. You are also increasing the temperature of your muscles which elevates muscle enzyme activity. Finally, you are trying to functionally prepare the body for what is about to be done by waking up those muscle pathways.
Growing up we probably all remember a coach yelling, "touch your toes! hold the stretch! ooo that is good!". This stretch and hold model is known as static stretching. How often during a run are we stationary and bending over from our lower backs? When thinking of the functionality of the stretch, it makes no sense to be a part of warm up routine for running. This is why some light jogging of 5-20 minutes (depending on current fitness level) and then a set of dynamic stretching is the best routine for runners. Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching in which we are moving our joints and muscles, lightly, through their range of motion.
Examples of Dynamic Stretching Include:Side-Shuffles
Easy Strider x4 (pick-up, quicker tempo running 70-100 meters)
*Each stretch should be performed for 30-100 meters*
Here is a video example:
Not only will these dynamic stretches help with the warm-up, but you will be working all of your supporting muscles in your legs and the end result will be a stronger, faster runner.