By Joanne Pallotta, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Correspondent
Now that you’ve decided to take up running, it’s important to make sure you warm up properly beforehand to avoid any kind of acute injury, like a muscle pull or strain.
Dr. John-Paul Hezel in the Division of Sports Medicine & Shoulder Surgery at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center points out some of the most important principles to warming up before you hit the pavement.
Heart Rate, Blood Flow & Dynamic Movement
Getting your heart rate up and blood flowing is a good way to avoid injury. You can increase both by doing some kind of dynamic exercise like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or walking lunges. Briskly walking for 10 to 15 minutes gets the job done, as well. Before you know it, you’re breaking out into a run.
Dr. Hezel stresses there’s no need to do any “static” stretching, or holding of a muscle for 30 seconds to a minute prior to your run.
“It’s actually bad for you,” Dr. Hezel points out. “That’s where you’re increasing risk.”
The goal of a static stretch is to lengthen the muscle fibers as much as possible, increasing your flexibility and improving range of motion. But when you stretch beforehand, the muscle and tendon lose a lot of elasticity and the properties that give them strength and maximum output. That causes other tendons and muscles to have to compensate – increasing your risk for injury.
Dr. Hezel says save the stretching for after. That’s when everything is going to constrict and get a lot tighter. That’s when you’ll want to loosen up.
Your age matters when it comes to the warm up. Older individuals “may have to spend a bit longer with [heart rate, blood flow, and dynamic movement] because your body may not respond as quickly,” stresses Dr. Hezel.
Finally, know your goal! Is it endurance or speed? Mapping out your run will help you determine what you want to do to get ready for it, physically and mentally.
Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
Posted March 2014