A typically run day probably looks like this for most of us: wake up, bathroom break, drink coffee, eat a small breakfast, bathroom break, put on running clothes and shoes, bathroom break and quickly out the door to run before the first meeting at 9. Do I need to mention the creaky, sloggy first mile (or more) it takes to shake the rust and feel locked into your stride? Though the benefits of a warm up have been extensively proven, the 20-45 minute routines provided by Coach Google aren’t exactly feasible in the average runner’s routine. This article unpacks the benefits of a dynamic warm up and provide a 5-minute routine that will have your body ready to run without riding the first mile struggle bus.
Why is a warm up important?
A warm up is important for runners for various reasons. Done correctly, it gradually increases our temperature, heart rate, systemic blood flow, and oxygen availability to our muscles. As a result, joints have better range of motion, muscles are more mobile, injury risk is lower, we have less post-run soreness, and our overall ability to perform improves. Essentially, a good warm up fully prepares the body for the demands that will be asked of it.
What is a dynamic warm up?
A dynamic warm up is a series of movements aimed at achieving the above. Sounds simple right? Just move around for a while (get your groove on to the newest T-Swift release?) and then go run! Though dancing is one of the more exciting options, in reality it’s beneficial to be intentional with exercises that make up your warm up. When I create routines for the runners on the DPR team, each exercise is aimed at preparing the body specifically for the task at hand: running. We begin with slower, gentler movements and end with dynamic, plyometric-type drills that provide the body with a fluid transition to running. We also aim to maximize the valuable time we have set aside for running, so routines are quick, not too complex, and easily memorizable.
DPR's 5-minute daily warm up routine
If you are looking for a dynamic warm up to call your own, this is one of our teams go-to options. You can watch the routine here and dig into the movements below.
2-part leg swings x 5 each movement, both sides
Leg swings are designed to improve muscular and joint mobility, releasing tension through your lower extremity and allowing for structures to glide and move correctly.
Forward and reverse hip openers x 5 each movement, both sides
Hip openers, like leg swings, target the joint and surrounding muscles. However, these also activate the smaller hip rotator muscles around the hip that aid in pelvic, hip and knee stability while we run.
Single leg calf raise x 5 each side
Tight, weak, or ineffective calf muscles are common to injuries such as Achilles, posterior tibialis, and peroneal tendinopathy as well as plantar fasciitis, among others that plague runners. This simple exercise will increase circulation to the area and help the muscles be better prepared (and less prone to injury) for the task at hand.
Reverse lunge to runner x 5 stance each side
A team favorite! Along with activating most of the larger lower extremity muscles, the reverse lunge lends itself to a much lower degree of shear force through the knee. Pairing the movement with a form-focused stability stance makes this exercise incredibly transferable to the run, which is why it is near the end of the routine.
Single leg cycles x roughly 20 meters, each side
Running cycles are dynamic and complete our warm up progression. By improving foot contact time and knee drive, this running drill is the perfect way to end your warm up. Start by performing the movement stationary until you get the rhythm of it - and before you ask, everyone looks silly when they start!
That’s it! Sloggy, creaky early miles are no more!
- Coach Asher