Warmup and Cooldown For The Long Run By Dave Thomas, Exercise Phys, CSCS The human body is made up of over 600 muscles which work in unison to propel our bodies through space and enable us to perform incredible athletic accomplishments. We come in all sizes, and shapes and depending on how we are built and the specific training programs, we are able to perform many forms of movement. One thing all sports have in common is that the body must be a free moving and efficient machine in order to perform at a high level. All of the 600 muscles must be trained to move freely and work together or a lack of performance and even injury will result from a “lack of balance” in flexibility and strength. Therefore taking the time to properly warmup and cooldown and maintaining a proper balance of flexibility and strength of your body is crucial for long time athletic health and should be a part of everyone’s running program. Things which may effect your Flexibility: Poor posture (sitting, standing and your running mechanics) Lack of strength Overuse of muscles without spending the time relaxing them with restoration such as massage, Jacuzzi, stretching program, meditation, etc… Too much sitting Chronic de-hydration One of the components of making you a more complete athlete is increasing your flexibility (or Range of Motion) of all of the major muscle groups and joints in your body. The “joint” refers to the meeting point of the origin or insertions of various muscles where rotational or flexion/extension occurs. (A knee is an example of a joint). If you have “tight” muscle group and that muscle group is always in a state of “spasm”, this will interfere with the fluid athletic running movement and eventually cause overuse and misalignment issues when you run longer distances. A good example of this is the runner with tight hamstrings or hip rotators. If the runners continues to run with overly tight hamstring/hip rotators, they will not get a full running stride, putting a lot of stress on the lower back, calves and knees. As the runner increases their mileage with long runs, they will eventually breakdown and most likely end up with a number of ailments from lower back pain, some type of tendonitis in knees or feet, shins, and eventually force the runner to take a break from running. You must understand, we are a Kinetic Chain (in simple terms, the movement of one body part effects the coordinated movements of another body part) and if this Kinetic Chain is broken from a tight muscle group, it often leads to a problem somewhere else in the body. Often a sore area in one part of the body is cause from a tight muscle group in another part of your body which has caused you to compromise your running stride leads to a weak area of the body being overworked. This will often lead to injury as you increase your long runs. The most beautiful thing is to watch an elite athlete whether they are runner, gymnast or ice skater and notice how easy and fluid their body moves through space. This is only achieved by having a very flexible and strong body which came from many hours of not only performing their specific sport training skills, but also by doing the things off the athletic field (stretching and strengthening). You will become more of a complete runner, increase your performance and decrease your chances of injury by taking the time to warm up and cooldown after your workouts and long term work on increasing your range of motion. Flexibility: is the body joint’s ability to move through a full range of motion with a full coordination of movement of the muscle groups involved. *I have designed a general warmup and cooldown routine you can perform outside without any straps, props or training partners. If you are extremely “tight” and have problem areas which need to be addressed where you may need more help, please consult with a coach or personal trainer which can work one-on-one with you for awhile and bring you up to a normal and healthy range of motion. Purpose for Warmup Before Running: Increase body temperature slightly to bring blood to working muscles Increase nervous system and coordination awareness to working muscles Increase mental condition of athlete from passive to heightened awareness Cordinate the whole body movements with fluid specific movements of the sport Dynamic Movement Warmup- Warmup should focus on dynamic exercises which involve a steady, fluid system of movement involving starting with easy to faster/more explosive movement . Coach Dave’s Warmup (Perform this dynamic stretch routine before your run each time. Remember to relax and breath) 1) Sunworshipers Stand in place with feet together, reach down towards toes bending at the waist. Return back to standing position while reaching elbows back and arms out and squeezing shoulder blades together. Return to starting position. Repeat 15 times. 2) Neck Rolls- Rotate the neck in a semi-circular motion clockwise from left to right and then right to left. 15 Repetitions slowly each way. 3) Arm Circles- With arms straight and out to the sides, and elbows slightly bent, rotate the arms forward 15 times and 15 backwards starting with small circles and progressing to bigger circles when you reach last reps. 4) Trunk Twists- Standing with feet at shoulder length apart and arms straight out to sides, twist body from the waist so the body is rotating at the waist and arms are swinging back to the right and then to the left while keeping feet planted on the ground. Repeat 15 each way. 5) Cariocca Trunk Twists- From a standing position with knees slightly bent and feet shoulder length apart, take the back foot and cross it over the lead foot followed by the lead foot moving laterally. Twist trunk from the waist while the body is moving laterally. Do this cross over motion with trunk twists for 25 yards to the right, pause, then 25 yards back to start. Repeat 5 up and backs of 25 yards. 6) Walking Lunge – Step out with one leg forward and one leg back. The forward leg should be parallel to the ground and the knee should be behind the toes. Pull the back foot forward through the lunge position and walk for 20 yards, pause, turn and return to the start. Repeat 5 rounds. 7) Walking Leg Kicks- From a standing position and one arm out in front of you, start walking and Kicking leg out in front of you and try kicking foot up to your extended hand. Walk and kick while alternating hands for 25 yards, pause, turn and return to start while kicking. Repeat 5 times. 8) Side Walking Squats- Start by slowly going down to squat position while reaching out with your right leg out to the right side. Reach leg out and have heel touch the ground while down in a full deep squat. Walk-Squat coordinated movement for 25 yards, pause, return back to start with same movement. Repeat for 5 rounds. 9) Toe Hops- Standing with knees slightly bent, hop slowly in place on toes with not much height on each hop. As you are hopping, after every few reps, progress with higher and more forceful hops in place . 25 reps each set. Repeat 3 sets. 10) Majorettes- Similar to Walking Leg Kicks except while you are walking, bent knee first before kicking out while walking. 11) Running Lunges- Starting in a lunge position, with one leg back and both palms of your hands in contact with the ground, switch position of your feet so the leg which was in front of you is now back and back leg is in front of you. Start with slow switches of legs for first reps and progress faster as you progress. 15 Reps each set. 2 Sets. 12) Butt/Heel Kicks- Moving slowly forward, pop the heels up against the butt on each step. The action is quick and smooth. The swinging motion should be produced at the knee joint. Progress for 25 yards, pause, return to start. Repeat 5 times. (You can perform Jumping Jacks for 30x instead) Purpose of Cooldown Bring body back down to homeostasis (resting state) before shower Work on relaxing muscles and post setting of the range of the muscles for the future. Stretching (easy) the muscle fibers at macro and micro levels to aid in prevention of injury Static Cool Down- Movement is slow and steady (not jerky) until athlete reaches their current ROM of the muscle joint, hold for 10-60 seconds (depending on the experience of the athlete) and return to start. Focus is on slow, relaxing movement, and train the mind to overcome the tendency to jerk and rush. Why Increase Your Range of Motion(ROM) of each joint? Increasing ROM will aid in increasing your speed (increase stride length) Increasing ROM with dynamic/static will aid in relaxing muscles and keep form straight and proper by maintaining body alignment thereby preventing injury. Coach Dave’s Post Run Stretch Find a bench you can use as a prop for some of the stretches. This Stretching routine was designed to be done outside with all exercises done from a standing position. Hold Stretch for 15- 60 seconds for 3-5 reps, 3 times per week ( refer to # of stretch for the visual of the exercise. You can pick this up at a team practice.) Calves (back of lower leg) Exercise # 25 1. Stand upright 4 or 5 steps from a wall, tree or your car. 2. Bend one leg forward and keep your opposite leg straight. 3. Lean against the wall without losing the straight line of your head,neck,spine pelvis, right leg and ankle. You should feel stretch in the belly of your calf and possibly under your arch. 4. Keep your rear foot down, flat and parallel to your hips. 5. Exhale, and flex your forward knee toward the floor. (variation is to bend your back knee slightly while keeping your feet flat. You will feel the stretch more on inner calf and Achilles tendon. Hold stretch and relax. Repeat both sides. Hip Adductors (Groin area) Exercise #102 1. Start with right foot on low bench. Turn your whole trunk, from the hips to the left. 2. Exhale and flex the standing leg so the knee is bent. Push the hips back and bend slightly at the hips. You should feel the stretch on the inside of the right thigh. Hold stretch and relax. 3. Switch legs and repeat. Hamstrings (Back of Upper Leg) Exercise #58 1. Standing upright, place the right foot on a bench (about hip level). 2. Place your hands on the left thigh. Keeping your back straight (not curved), bring your chest out and toward your right thigh. Hold stretch and relax. You should feel stretch down back of your leg which is on the bench. (Variation is to point toe inward or outward to hit a different hamstring group). 3. Switch and repeat on other leg. Quadriceps (Front part of thigh) Exercise #123 1. Stand Upright with one hand against a surface for balance and support. 2. Flex right leg back and pull gently the heel of the foot toward right buttocks while slightly bending the left leg. Make sure not to pull hard and compress your knee. You should feel stretch on front of leg from upper part to right above knee.Hold stretch and relax. 3. Repeat on left leg. Hip Flexor (Front part of upper thigh area where hip meets trunk) Exercise #124 1. Stand upright with the top of your left foot resting on the bench behind you. 2. Bend right foot slightly until you feel stretch on your upper left thigh area. Lean back slightly. Hold stretch and relax. 3. Repeat on left leg. Shins (front part of lower leg from knee to top of ankle) Exercise #132 1. Kneel on all fours with your toes facing backward. (do this on grass) 2. Slightly lift your right knee off the ground. You should feel stretch in shin area of lower foot. Exhale, and slowly sit back on heels if you can. Hold stretch and relax. Repeat on both legs. Buttocks and Hips (butt and also outside of hip/upper leg) Exercise #149 1. Lie flat on your back with right leg raised and straight and your arms out to the sides 2. Exhale and slowly lower your right leg to the left hand while keeping your elbows, head and shoulders flat on the floor. Focus on dropping leg over and feeling stretch in buttocks and outside of your hip area. Hold stretch and relax. Repeat on left leg. Lower Back Exercise #197 1. Kneel on all fours on grass with your toes facing backward 2. Inhale and contract your abdominals, while rounding your back up towards the sky. 3. Exhale, relax your abdominals, and return to the “flat back” position. You should feel this in lower to mid back area and possibly in your shoulders. Repeat stretch. Chest and Front of Shoulder Exercise #274 1. Stand upright facing the edge of a wall, tree or pole 2. Raise your left arm, bend at the elbow, and place your hand on the wall, tree or pole. 3. Exhale, and turn away form your fixed arm as it remains against your side. Hold the stretch and relax. When you lean forward you should feel the stretch in your chest and front of arm area. Repeat on your right arm. Tricep and Shoulder (back of arm) Exercise #299 1. Stand upright with your left arm bent over your head and raised next to your ear and your left hand on your right shoulder blade. 2. Grasp your left elbow with your right hand. 3. Exhale and pull your left elbow behind your head. 4. Hold the stretch and relax. Repeat on other side. Shoulders, Arms and Upper Back Exercise #36 1. Stand upright facing and holding skinny tree or telephone pole with your feet parallel about 1 foot apart 2. Inhale, and lower your buttocks to the floor. Hold the stretch and relax. 3. Exhale and return to starting position. Specialty Stretching Exercises Often runners may have a special area that is tight and needs to be isolated and stretched. Below are a few of these exercises you may add to your general routine if needed. If you have specific areas not covered in this article, you can contact one of your coaches at a team practice for some other stretching exercises to address your specific problem area. Illiotibial Band (Band which runs outside hip to knee area) Exercise #164 1. Stand upright with your feet together and your left side to a wall about an arm’s length away. 2. Place left hand on the wall or tree and the heel of your right hand on the back of your hip joint. 3. Exhale, and while keeping your legs straight, contract your buttocks and rotate your hips slightly forward and toward the wall. Push your left hip slightly toward the wall till you feel a slight stretch on the right hip and down outside of right leg. Hold stretch and relax. Repeat on the other side. You can also try this next one for Illiotibial Band if #164 is ineffective. Exercise #167 (Illiotibial #2) 1. Stand upright with your hands at your sides. 2. Extend and adduct your left leg as far as possible. 3. Exhale, slowly flex your trunk laterally out toward your side, and try to touch the heel of your left leg with both hands.You should be turning about 90 degrees around. Hold the stretch and relax. You should feel stretch on outside of the opposite side you are turning. Arches and Toes Exercise #4 1. Kneel on grass on all fours with your toes slightly bent underneath you. 2. Exhale and lower your buttocks backward and downward. Hold the stretch and relax. You should feel the stretch in arches of feet and all of your toes. Wrapup and Review You should spend about 10 minutes with warmup exercise routine and with the first mile of your run slower than your training pace before easing up the speed up to your training pace. (If you are warming up for a race, you should perform warmup exercises, jog 10-15 minutes and perform some striders about 15 minutes before race to be warmup and primed to go once the starters pistol fires.) You should ease down speed last mile of your run to warmup pace and then even walk for 5 minutes post run to ensure a good cooldown. Don’t try to force a muscle to stretch. Relax, breath and slowly let the muscle elongate to improve your overall range of motion. Once you have mastered the routine, you can vary your exercises to ensure progress and an improvement to your whole body’s range of motion. Consistency is the key when improving any component of conditioning. Set long range goals of improving each joint and overall body range of motion. You will only improve a little each week but you will notice a big change in 5 months and even a year if you work on it. Improving your range of motion of your body will not only help you long term to prevent injury, it will aid in your overall running performance with a fuller and more efficient stride. Work hard and Good Luck. Additional Reading and Exercises Can be Found in : Sport Stretch Michael J Alter Leisure Press (Division of Human Kinetics. WWW.humankinetics.com or call 1. 800. 465.7301 Dave Thomas, CSCS , is an exercise physiologist who works in the area of sports medicine as a sports conditioning coach /health professional. Some of his clients have included athletes from the Philadelphia Flyers, Philadelphia 76ers, professional boxing, USA Soccer, and the entertainment field. Thomas has been head coach of the Team in Training program for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society since 1991. In a 30 year running career, he competed for Temple University, has run over 75 marathons (2 hr. 28 minutes PR) and 10 ultra marathons in England, South Africa and USA National Championships for 100 K. PR of 7:18 for 100k(62 Miles) and was the first American in London to Brighton 56 miler (1983) and Comrades 56 Miler (2000). Dave currently is Head Coach of Men’s and Women’s Cross Country at Philadelphia University and is President of Philadelphia Athletic Charities Inc.(www.philadelphiaathleticcharities.org ) He can be reached at 215-487-0770 or email@example.com. POST RUN STRETCHES FOR RUNNERS *We will cover the visual demonstration of the warmup and post run stretches at practice. Please contact your coaches also if you have any questions or individual orthopedic problems so we can show you other variations to the exercises to fit your background.
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