For many runners, a proper warmup is an essential part of training. There are many benefits to warming up before running, and being aware of the benefits can increase a runner's motivation to warm up properly.
Warming up enables runners to mentally prepare for training or a race. During a warmup routine, runners can shift their mind to running and remove distractions. This increases focus during running and therefore can have a positive effect on performance. After a warmup, runners should be mentally prepared for the run that they have ahead of them.
A proper warm up includes 5 to 15 minutes of cardiovascular activity, which increases body temperature. Cardiovascular activity could include walking or a slow paced run. The activities performed during warmup should not be of a high intensity, and should not put any strain on your body. The intensity of the warmup can be gradually increased as your muscles become more flexible. During the warmup your blood vessels dilate, which increases the supply of oxygen to your muscles. The increased amount of oxygen helps prevent the negative effects of lactic acid buildup. Warming up raises the temperature of muscles, increasing flexibility. Another benefit to preparing for a run is that it increases your heart rate, which means that when you begin running there is less stress on your heart. A proper warmup prevents blood pressure changes that are too fast.
Stretches should be performed after the muscles have been warmed up by cardiovascular activity. Dynamic stretches are suitable for runners, where stretches are performed while the body is in motion. An example of a dynamic stretch is lunging. Static stretches can be incorporated in a warmup routine to increase the flexibility of tight muscles. Stretches should focus on the muscles that are used during running. This increases the strength of these muscles and their flexibility. By working on your muscles, this can give you more power when running.
Warmup exercises raise blood flow to the muscles and therefore make them more flexible. Running at a fast pace means that muscles have to contract faster than normal, and if they're not warmed up it can result in injury. Runners who don't warm up have a much higher rate of injury. Warming up decreases the level of soreness you will feel after a run, as your muscles will have been adequately prepared. Warming up raises the levels of synovial fluid that the body produces, and this decreases friction in a runner's joints.
The increased blood flow to muscles during warmup increases the muscles' flexibility, and can therefore improve performance. Being warmed up decreases the time it takes for your respiratory and cardiovascular systems to respond to running and gives you a better start to the race. It increases energy through the breakdown of glycogen.
There are many different warmup routines to choose from, and a variety of stretching exercises can be included. A warmup can also be performed with friends or other runners to increase your motivation.