Warm Up Routines: Why are they Important Before Running?

8th July 2019
We can't just run for long periods of time without giving our muscles a chance to warm up beforehand. Discover the main reasons why you should start warming up before any kind of workout.

The warm-up is a part of the training that an athlete can never miss. It’s a core part of the training, even when many people don’t understand what makes it so important. In this article, we’ll explain why it’s necessary to warm up before running.

Starting to run without warming up properly in advance can lead to various problems, such as tearing a muscle or even breaking a bone. A lack of a proper warm-up can make an athlete perform way under his capabilities, just because their body isn’t prepared for the strain. For these reasons, warming up is an important step to preserve wellbeing and physical performance.

Reasons to warm up before running

Warming up before training is absolutely necessary for the runner. Below, you’ll see the reasons why you should make the warm-up an unchangeable habit in your routines:

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1. Increases body temperature

By doing an active and full-body warm-up routine, the temperature of the muscles increases. Therefore, body temperature also increases. This accelerates the metabolic process, a key aspect if you want to reduce your weight. Plus, a higher temperature supplies the energy needed to cope with physical efforts.

2. Increases blood flow

Warming up your body also increases your heart rate and blood flow. This way, warming up leads to better respiratory performance and oxygen distribution in the muscles. Remember, oxygen distribution is very important for a great performance during a race.

3. Warm up improves muscle performance

As the temperature of the muscles increases, the viscosity of the tissue decreases markedly. This modification allows a more fluid, fast and strong muscular contraction. At the same time, it allows better oxygenation and dilatation of the blood vessels.

warm up

4. A warm-up prevents injuries

Injuring yourself is more likely if you skip the warm-up and start running immediately. The reason is that the muscles are cold and unprepared for the taxing training.

Therefore, an injury due to abrupt contractions of the muscle or a break due to lack of mobility in a joint is very likely if you don’t give priority to warming.

5. Avoid cramping

Cramps are involuntary contractions of the muscle. Sometimes, they can be quite painful and prolonged. In runners, cramps usually arise in the calves or thighs; when a cramp occurs, the training is often over, runners have to stretch and call it a day.

To prevent cramping, it’s essential to warm up properly. Also, it’s advisable to be properly hydrated before warming up and going for a run.

6. Optimal weight distribution

Another essential benefit of warming up is that the layer of cartilage in the joints thickens. This improves the distribution of the load on the knees.

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Warm up before running

Now, warming up before running is essential so that the aforementioned processes are fulfilled. All this will help you to have a good performance when running.

However, to enjoy the benefits of warming up, it’s essential to put into practice an effective routine that really prepares the body for the race. Therefore, you should take into consideration the following recommendations:

  • It’s important that you pay special attention to the most frequently used muscles when running. These include the adductors, the hamstrings, the quadriceps, the abdomen and the knee joint, among others.
  • Try to start running shortly after warming up. If at the end of warm-up you take a very long rest, the muscles return to their normal temperature. This means you’ll have to warm up all over again.
  • To properly stimulate muscles, the warm-up needs to be active. However, you should never start at a demanding pace. It’s better to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity.
warm up

  • The shorter and more intense the races, the longer and more energetic your warm-up must be.
  • Don’t stretch before running, since this tends to relax the muscle. Concentrate on doing a dynamic warm-up and leave the stretch for after the race.

Take care of your body

Elements such as nutrition, hydration, rest and warm-up are essential for the athlete. Therefore, you must find a balance between all of these factors in order to be healthy, give great performance and achieve your goals.

Make sure you give it your all by performing a proper warm-up routine. This doesn’t mean you should tire yourself out, but that you should pay attention to your body.

If you don’t warm up enough, without really increasing the temperature of your muscles, this can have severe consequences in your body. Don’t put yourself at risk: warming up before running is extremely necessary.

  • Bishop, D. (2003). Warm up II: Performance changes following active warm up and how to structure the warm up. Sports Medicine. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200333070-00002
  • Gray, S. C., Devito, G., & Nimmo, M. A. (2002). Effect of active warm-up on metabolism prior to and during intense dynamic exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise34(12), 2091–2096. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005768-200212000-00034
  • Noonan, T. J., & Garrett Jr, W. E. (1999). Muscle strain injury: diagnosis and treatment. The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons7(4), 262–269.
  • Safran, M. R., Seaber, A. V., & Garrett, W. E. (1989). Warm-Up and Muscular Injury Prevention An Update. Sports Medicine. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-198908040-00004