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How I like to warm up safely and effectively

A good warm up before exercise or a sporting event may help reduce the risk of injury and improve performance.

Here is my preferred method when preparing for a run.

1. Get a good nights sleep, essential to get me ready for exercising the next day.

2. I don’t eat breakfast most days, preferring to fast until about lunchtime. Exercising on an empty stomach helps improve blood sugar levels, insulin sensitivity and fat metabolism. So the best time for me to exercise is in the morning.

images3. Walk briskly for about 5 minutes to get the blood flowing, also warming the muscles and connective tissue to prepare for stretching .

4. I prefer gentle dynamic stretching to further prepare my muscles, connective tissue as well as nerves so ready to run. Dynamic stretching involves moving into and out of stretch positions holding each briefly and repeating 5-10 times. Most of my stretches are yoga or Pilates type exercises where I make sure to engage my core muscles to ensure good control of the movement. Static stretches, where stretch positions are held for longer periods of time, have been shown to inhibit muscle activity and may increase the risk of injury when included in a warm up.

5. I prefer to start slow and build speed over 5-10 minutes depending on the length of the run. I like to focus on my breathing without being too thought focused with allows me to get into ‘the zone.’

As I usually run outside, where it can be cold, and because I layer up I tend to perspire quite a bit. So after a run I usually have a warm shower as part of my warm down. This seems to help regulate my body temperature more quickly and avoid getting chilled.

Warming down with some stretching is also a good idea to help prevent post exercise muscle soreness and stiffness. I use static stretches now, holding each for about 30 seconds.

If thirsty I’ll have a glass of room temperate water after a run, definitely no need for any sugary sports drinks. I’m usually not hungry right away as I’m good at burning eaten and stored body fat. Later it’s time for something to eat, depending on the length and speed of the run some nutritious carbohydrates may be included to replenish muscle and liver glycogen stores.

This routine works well on the weekends or when on holiday when I have more time and I always feel the benefits of exercising properly. That said I always try to do a good warm up, even for a shorter after work run.

In good health,

Simon.

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