Active Warm Up

Before exercising, we should always warm up. Most people do this naturally by starting their walk or jog a little slower or perhaps doing a couple quick stretches before beginning their game. However, the best way to warm-up is to do some dynamic exercises. Starting with a slower speed of walking or jogging does not incorporate all your muscle groups, and static stretching is not good if your muscles are cold because they can tear more easily. A dynamic warm-up includes a variety of movements to get your blood flowing and loosen up your muscles before you begin your activity. 

Below is my active warm-up that I do before EVERY run, no excuses. Whether it's a 5k race or marathon, easy run or recovery run, speed workout or long run - you will find me doing this active warm-up. It is also great for other sports including soccer, tennis, and even strength training. For swimming, I like to do a modified version mostly just involving arm swings and shoulder/neck rolls, but I still do something dynamic before jumping in the pool. 

I typically do 20-30 steps or 10-20 swings for each exercise, but I assess how I feel and vary the number and intensity as needed. If something feels extra tight, I'll keep the motion smaller at first and then gradually increase the range of motion as I go. If you are cold, do extra as the purpose is to warm-up! If everything feels easy or I am short on time, I'll do a few less reps. 

I prefer to do the warm-up outside, but I'll do it down a long hallway or around the living room if the weather is cold or rainy or I'm doing an indoor workout. Just make sure you don't hit the walls with your arms if it's a narrow hallway. That has happened to me one too many times!

Additionally, I would recommend doing the exercises in the order listed, as it starts with more gentle movements and then progresses to faster movements. 

1. Marching with Overhead Press: Start standing with your arms down. Next, take a step forward and bring one knee up as you raise both arms out to the side and overhead. Lower the leg and your arms, and then take another step with a high knee while lifting your arms up. Continue alternating as if you are marching and raising your arm up and down. 

2. Bottom Kicks with Row: Start standing with your arms down. Next, take a step forward and bring your heel back to your bottom while bringing your elbows back and squeezing your shoulder blades together. Then, bring your foot and arms down and repeat with the other leg. Continue walking forward alternating butt kicks and performing a row with every step. 

3. Forward Kicks with Opposite Arm Reach: Start standing with arms down. Next, take a step forward kicking your leg straight out in front of you and reaching for it with the opposite arm. Lower the leg, and then repeat with the other foot and arm. Continue walking forward alternating legs and arms. 

4. Side Step Up and Over: Start standing sideways with your feet together. Next, take a side step as if you are stepping up and over a box. Once you put the first food down, lift the other foot up and over the imaginary box to bring your feet back together. Continue going in that same direction 10-20 steps, then reverse and perform in the opposite direction leading with the other leg.

5. Leg Swings Forward and Back: Stand up tall next to a wall with one arm on the wall for support. You can also use a counter, chair, tree, or car. Swing one leg forward and back 10-20 times, and then swing the other leg forward and back 10-20 times. 

6. Leg Swings Side to Side: Standing up tall facing a wall with both arms resting on the wall for support. Swing one leg side to side 10-20 times, and then swing the other leg side to side 10-20 times. I like to alternate swinging the leg in front of and then behind the stance leg. This picture shown here on the left demonstrates swinging in front of. 

7. Finally, I like to do arm swings and neck rolls to loosen my upper body a little more. I will also move around anything else that still feels tight.

Then, it's time to lace up and get out there! This is my "oh my goodness - there is so much snow" face!

What do you like to do for a warm-up? Cassie likes to wait till I'm gone, sneak up on the bed, and then sleep through the whole thing :)

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