Training Tip #4: BE SURE TO WARM UP, STRETCH, COOL DOWN

Get ready. Get Set. 10 DAYS to go.

Thinking about running (or walking) in the upcoming Holiday Half Marathon or 5K? Here’s tip #4 from Rehab Services to help you get ready for race day.

Training Tip #4: BE SURE TO WARM UP, STRETCH, COOL DOWN

All runs should start with a warm-up and end with a cool down. Why are they so important? A good warm-up dilates your blood vessels ensuring your muscles are well perfused with oxygen. It also raises the temperature of your muscles for optimal flexibility and efficiency. Finally, by slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize an abrupt stress on your heart when you start your run.

Just as important, the cool down keeps the blood flowing throughout the body. Stopping suddenly can cause light-headedness as your heart rate and blood pressure drop more rapidly. Winding down slowly allows them to fall gradually.

Here's how to do a proper warm-up and cool down:

  • Many distance runners opt for exercise to loosen up their muscles before their run. A brisk walk, marching in place, jogging slowly, or cycling on a stationary bike all work well. Whatever you choose, don't rush your warm-up. Also, wear an extra layer of clothing to help break a light sweat before your race begins.
  • Today, most athletes use “Dynamic Warm Up” to prepare for higher intensity sporting events. Dynamic movement patterns are very effective at “getting loose” when sporting activities demand abrupt, ballistic movements, sudden changes in speed or acceleration or rapid changes in direction. These drills are a series of athletic movements designed to gradually increase joint range of motion and muscle flexibility, muscle activation and cardiopulmonary demand. Examples include Toy Soldiers, Thigh Huggers, High Knees, High Heels, Forward and Backward Shuttles; Side Shuffles, Cross Overs, Skipping, Hurdler Walks, etc.
  • Regardless of how you do it, Stretching/Warm Up should be a component of your regular running routine. Most experts agree that if you are trying to improve your flexibility it is best to stretch after your run, when your muscles are completely warmed up and more elastic. If you feel stiff and need to stretch before, do it after you've warmed up with a slow five or ten minute jog and are starting to perspire.
  • When you begin your run don't start out racing, but instead jog slowly and gradually build your speed. Initially, you should be breathing very easily. If you’re quickly out of breath, slow down.
  • After your run, slowly cool down by walking or jogging for 5 to 10 minutes. Your body will be warm and stretching will be easier. Often runners will stretch their lower back, neck, shoulders, hip and groin area, quadriceps, hamstring and calves. During these stretches …
  • Don't Bounce. It's a common mistake, but bouncing risks pulling or tearing the muscle. Make sure you stretch your muscles gradually.
  • Don't Rush It. Stretch slowly holding it for 30-60 seconds. Repeat it 2 to 3 times.
  • Don't Stretch Through Pain. Stretch to the first point of gentle resistance and hold. Let the muscles “melt” into more motion, but never force the muscle or joint into pain.
  • Don't Hold Your Breath. Stay relaxed and breathe in and out slowly throughout the stretch.

If you're planning on participating in this weekend's Holiday Half Marathon or 5K at the Fairplex and Bonelli Regional Park … have a fun and injury free run! Look for us at the PVHMC Medical Tents on the course!

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