By Darren Croft
According to a study published in the Journal of Human Kinetics, warming up is an absolute must if you want to increase your performance and reduce your injury risk.
36 athletes took part in the study. 12 warmed up for 20 minutes, 12 cooled down after the exercise and 12 did neither. The exercise in question was a set of weighted lunges. Which group recorded a higher pain threshold and the least aching muscles? The group that warmed up, of course.
Around five minutes of slow, aerobic exercise will raise your muscle temperature and your heart rate so that more oxygen reaches your muscles. This will help you to run faster, for longer. Stretching is also important. Try some slow easy stretching, nothing too fast or dynamic or you could risk injuring yourself before you even begin.
A warm-up before a run not only revs your body’s engine, but it also helps to prevent injury. Running from a cold start is similar to starting your car on a cold morning then trying to hit top gear.
An interesting experiment is to go for a 5k run without any form of a warm-up. Another day (with similar weather conditions), warm up for ten minutes and then go for another 5k. Which run felt easier? Which run was quicker? I can pretty much guarantee it will be the one you properly warmed up for.
Some may see it as a waste of energy. Energy which could be better spent during your run, but the science speaks for itself and a warm-up of just five-to-ten minutes before your run will not only help to make your run that much easier, but also aid in keeping injuries at bay.
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