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Warming Up For Running – “Do I really need to?”

Posted on 8th January 2018 by

So, you’re ready for your next run. But before you set off, let’s consider the importance of a proper warm up.

If you’re an early morning runner and you’ve been led in bed all night, you’ll need to loosen up. Likewise, if you’ve been sat at work all day, you’ll need to prepare those joints and muscles for the physical activity that you’re about to put them through. Even if you have a physical job, getting yourself ready to run will not only improve your running performance, but it will help keep you free from injuries and increase your recovery rate.

So, warming up for a run is definitely important! But what’s the best way to warm up? 

Foam rolling

Love it or hate it, using a foam roller correctly has been proven to improve performance (1,2) and it’s a great way to prepare your muscles for running. From loosening up fascial adhesions to improving circulation, myofascial release with foam rolling is quick and effective and shouldn’t be left out of any warm up routine.

Using a foam roller (or a ball), stick to these six areas for the best whole-body release:

  1. Feet
  2. Calves
  3. Quadriceps
  4. Tensor fascia lata/TFL (hip flexor at the front of your hip)
  5. Lats (run from your armpit down the side of your body)
  6. Pectoral (chest).

Spending 60-90 seconds rolling each area will improve blood flow, release tension and will help identify any sore areas that may need some extra attention. If you’re not sure exactly what to do with your from roller or would like to learn how to use it effectively, why not some along to one of our foam roller workshops.

Mobility

How healthy are your joints? Simply moving a joint through its full range of motion will increase lubrication, open capillaries, improve circulation and facilitate coordination. Focus on your ankles, knees, hips and lower back. Here are some simple mobility exercises that you might do as part of your warm up.

Ankles: circle in each direction. Point the toes and bring them back towards the shins.

Knees: standing heel kicks to facilitate bending and extending the knees.

Hips: rotate one leg at a time in outward circles, before changing direction. Try to keep the circles as big as possible, as to challenge the full range of motion at the joint. Hold on to something if you’re balance isn’t great.

Lower back: laying on your back, bring both knees to your chest, squeeze and relax. Also try taking your right leg over to the left side with a bent knee to encourage rotation. Repeat on the other side.

Stretching 

Perform a few dynamic stretches after your mobility work. Dynamic means that you are stretching through moment (not holding a stretch).

Great examples of dynamic stretches include:

  • Forward lunge with a torso rotation.
  • Forward lunge with a torso side bend.
  • Bringing alternate knees to the chest and squeezing.
  • Alternating high kicks with a (fairly) straight leg.
  • Hamstring stretches with an arm scoop whilst gently walking forwards.

Try to avoid static stretching before physical activity. Research has shown that it can in fact be detrimental to athletic performance (3,4,5).

Muscle activation

Getting the right muscles firing before your run can help to maintain balance, symmetry and prevent injuries from occurring.

These exercises are fab for activating the muscles you need for running:

  • Calves: heels raises, skipping.
  • Quadriceps: lunges, bodyweight squats, tuck jumps.
  • Hamstrings: heel kicks.
  • Glutes: crab walks, side-to-side shuffles, or backwards shuttle runs.

Running backwards is a great way of activating those big gluteal muscles which continue to work when you turn around and run forwards (just make sure you’re in a hazard-free environment to prevent any unwanted falls).

Having your glutes activated will stabilise your hips, you’ll have greater propulsion when pushing off and your knees will be less inclined to fall in every time you plant your front foot. Not only will this make you a more efficient runner, but it will help prevent hip, knee and ankle overuse injuries from occurring.

So, here’s a summary for a runner’s guide to a quick, efficient warm up:

  • Foam Rolling – Quick six; feet, calves, quadriceps, TFL, lats and pecs.
    60-90 seconds on each, then move on.
  • Mobility Work – Move each joint through its full range of motion. Include ankles, knees, hips, lower back.
  • Dynamic Stretches – Active stretching with movement.
  • Muscle Activation – Calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.
  • Backwards running will help with your forward running.

References

  1. Peacock CA, Krein DD, Silver TA, Sanders GJ, von Carlowitz KPA. An acute bout of self-myofascial release in the form of foam rolling improves performance testing. Int J Exerc Sci. 2014;7:202-211.
  2. Monteiro et al. Acute effects of different self-massage volumes on the FMS overhead deep squat performance. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2017; 12(1): 94-104.
  3. Chatzopoulos D., Galazoulas C., Patikas D., Kotzamanidis C. (2014) Acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on balance, agility, reaction time and movement time. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine 13(2), 403-409.
  4. Lowery RP et al. Effects of static stretching on 1-mile uphill run performance. J Strength Cont Res. 2014; 28(1): 161-7.
  5. Costa PB, Ryan ED, Herda TJ, Walter AA, Defreitas JM, Stout JR, Cramer JT. Acute effects of static stretching on peak torque and the hamstrings-to-quadriceps conventional and functional ratios. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013;23:38–45.

Our Top 6 Pilates Exercises For Runners

Posted on 17th July 2017 by

Pilates can be a fantastic way to keep your body balanced, which is especially important in a repetitive sport like running.

Here’s our top 6 Pilates exercises to strengthen and tone your running muscles, help to prevent injury and improve your running technique and efficiency.

Foot Series

  1. Stand with your feet hip width apart
  2. Bend your knee into a squat, keeping your chest upright and knees pointing over your toes
  3. From the squat position slowly rise up onto your toes (keeping the knees bent) then lower the heels
  4. Repeat 5 heel raises per squat, 10 times

Pilates for Runners Exercises Pilates for Runners Exercises


Shoulder Bridge 

  1. Lying on your back with your knees bent
  2. Squeeze your bottom to lift your hips off the floor
  3. Slowly extend one leg in line with your body, keeping the pelvis level
  4. Lower this leg then repeat on the other side
  5. Aim to do 10 on each leg

Pilates for runners goPhysuio


Scissors

  1. Lying on your back, bring both feet off the floor so that your hips and knees are at a 90 degree angle
  2. Keep you back flat to the floor
  3. Slowly lower one leg to tap the toes on the floor, then bring it back up to 90 degrees
  4. Repeat on both legs 10 times

Pilates for runners Chandlers Ford


The Clam

  1. Lay on one side with your knees bent, hips stacked one on top of the other and feet back in line with your bottom
  2. Lift your heels sop they are hoovering 6 inches off the floor
  3. Squeeze your bottom muscles to lift the top knee towards the ceiling, keeping your heels together and not rolling back from the pelvis
  4. Repeat 20 on each leg

Pilates exercises for runners


Swimming 

  1. From your hands and knees draw your tummy muscles in so your spine in straight
  2. Lift one arm up in front of you and the opposite leg out behind you
  3. Hold this balance for 5 secs without rotating or arching your back
  4. Repeat 10 times on each side

Pilates for runners


Hip Flexor Stretch

  1. Kneel with one knee in front of the other
  2. Keep your chest upright and slowly push your hips forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the back thigh
  3. Gently tuck your tailbone underneath you to increase the stretch
  4. Hold 30 secs each side

Stretches for runners


Read More 

Centring – the building blocks of Pilates

Clinical Mat Pilates

Pilates Timetable

Running Rehab Service