In the previous two posts we discussed glutes being ‘on’ / ‘off’ and how we bridge activation exercises into functional performance and now we are here to discuss taking this a step further with a structured warm-up for runners.
Ask most any runner what they do for a warm-up and you’ll probably here something along the lines of…
“I stretch (insert muscle they have issues with in the past)”
“I kind of stretch a little and then run a slower first mile”
I’m not saying this is wrong, but I am going to say that it could be better and here’s how: save your passive stretching for after your run. Make your warm-up more geared towards active mobility and muscle activation exercises.
I’m all for specificity in a warm-up but I’m going to generalize here for a bit because there’s about a 99% chance that if you’re reading this, I’ve never watched you move or assessed your movement in any way. But if you wanted that to happen….
With that being said, we typically lose mobility in our ankles, hips and thoracic spine. For runners that means dorsiflexion in the ankle, extension in the hip and rotation and extension in the thoracic spine. Lose dorsiflexion in your ankle and it’s going to be difficult to extend your hip when you walk, much less when you run. Lose the ability to extend your hip and it’s going to be REALLY difficult for your glutes to do their job and really easy for your hip flexors / quads to do that work instead. Heck at that point it’ll be like your glutes aren’t even firing anymore!
Soooo why don’t we work on these things before we run? Maybe prime the pump a little? Give our bodies a sense of better movement before we take a few thousand steps?
Here’s what Craig Phifer and I put together and our thought process behind it.
- Keep it short. You’re busy and probably having to wake up early or hustle out of work to squeeze in runs as it is.
- Hit on the areas we feel are typically problematic.
- Keep people from having to get down onto the ground if they aren’t starting from home. (special shout out to Kate Schwartzkof-Phifer)
We separated the warm-up into “at home” and “at the park” versions because we know many people meet up or start their runs from places other than their home.
I previously discredited the value of using reps when you’re doing activation exercises but I put reps with this in an attempt to give people a tangible amount to do. Again, we’re busy and if you’re likely to skip anything before you run it’s probably a warm up that doesn’t have much structure. You can always do more, but I err on the side of caution when doing less until you’ve really gotten a good appreciation of where to feel each exercise.
I’d love to hear back from anyone with questions, thoughts, comments or suggestions. What we have put together is meant to be simple and to help keep you out of a medical provider’s clinic.
Remember, the greatest skill any athlete can possess is availability.