Dynamic Warm Up Stretches
Dynamic Stretches are the modern and effective method of warming up for running, athletics and indeed all types of sports sessions. They can be adapted according the exercise to be undertaken and movements required - for example in weights or circuits session you might wish to do more upper body dynamic stretches.
Why do Dynamic Stretches?
Prior to exercise, dynamic stretches perform all the functions of "warming" up that static stretches don't. They increase your heart rate and temperature and put your body through the range of movement it is going to perform during your session. Opting for a traditional static stretch for 10-15mins will leave you cold and your muscles won't "fire" as they should, as they have been held in a stretched condition.
Dynamic Stretching Exercises
Below is a sample of the exercises that you can do that we believe would constitute a good and effective warm up for any running event. Many athletes jog before doing this - that is fine - and we'd suggest about 5 minutes worth, although if dynamic stretches are done well a warm up jog isn't essential.
For each exercise, move to a position that you can feel the muscles stretching in, before moving to the other leg, arm etc.
To view how to do any of these dynamic stretches just click on the picture and you'll be taken to a video clip of it. For each of the exercises where you are to move, we suggest a distance of about 20m is appropriate.
The aim of this exercise is to warm you up and not overly exert you - often this is the first exercise we do, either after a jog or upon arrival at the training venue.
Put your hands by your head and squeeze shoulder blades together. Brace your stomach and back. Take small steps forward, dropping your back knee to about 6 inches from the floor. Try to ensure that your front lower leg remains vertical as you do the lunge.
Calf Step Backs
There are two exercises here, which stretch different parts of the calf muscle in preparation for exercise. The first is with a straight leg at the back and the second a bent leg. Again, try to keep upright with your core braced. There is a little too much of a double bounce in this video - try to stretch back once and then change legs.
A very common exercise performed by athletes, although not always for the reason of warming up. Many coaches mistakenly use this as a drill to improve technique.
Regardless, the aim is to be light on your feet and lift your knees to a fairly high level, without having to lean backwards. Take short steps whilst doing the drill. Again this is a warming up exercise, so should not be done explosively.
This falls into the same category as the last one - a commonly used exercise by many coaches, not necessarily implemented for the correct reasons.
Take short steps, lifting your heels up to your backside. No knee lift is required for this drill. Some coaches ask that you put your hands behind your back, against your backside so you can feel your heels flick them - we suggest that you'd not do that when running normally so why do so here?
Keeping a tall posture throughout, raise one straightened leg until you feel a stretch in your hamstring. Make sure to also keep your back heel on the floor, as this ensures that the exercise is gentle - we don't want to use too much force on our hamstrings during the warm up.
Sideways High Knees
Most movements in running events are forwards, but a few are lateral, going round the bend on a track or round a corner in a road / cross-country event. So this exercise just stretches off this lateral muscles a little. VIDEO TO FOLLOW.
To loosen off your lower back, bend forwards and backwards keeping your back straight. Again, move with deliberate movements and avoid bouncing so the risk of pulling a muscle (particularly in your hamstrings) is minimised.
This is pretty self explanatory - swing your elbows back to open up your chest, as per the video.
Move your arms in front of your body with vertical swings - these can be straight up and down or out to the sides a little.
Do a deep lunge, pulling your heel up to your backside as you come through - as this replicates a running action - and pull back afterwards to stretch your hamstring, pulling yourself up as you do so.