Running Warm Up Exercises

When I get up on a morning I have my routine as I am sure you do too? I have a shower, brush my teeth, get dressed and then I have my breakfast. These are all to prepare me for my day ahead, to help me make the most of my day, if I skip any of these there are consequences later on during the day. (Especially if I don’t get dressed ha ha….).

The same goes for running as well, we need to prepare our bodies to tackle the elements, so before every run we need to do some running warm up exercises.

So why should we warm up? I here you ask

Well once upon a time research found that you did not need to warm up before exerting your body, this wasn’t just for running but any exercise, this is now not the case. There are still people out there today not warming up or doing very little warm up. A walk of 1 minute or a light jog is just not going to cut it, ahhhhhhhhhhh

If we warm up we can first of all maximise our workouts. It takes time for our bodies to reach their optimum level to perform just like a car, when you first turn the engine on in the morning your car still works and goes but has to work harder for all the cogs to work to get motion. We are just the same, as human beings, if we warm up properly, our bodies are already at that ultimate level, so we run faster, harder and longer to get the most out of our runs.

Another area is to help prevent injuries so we are not out for weeks, months or permanently not doing the things we enjoy. I think permanently is under extreme circumstances but never the less this can still happen and I don’t want this to be you. When we warm up it starts speeding up the flow of blood around the body and helps to lubricate the joints to help prevent strains or tears on the body. One of the conditions this could contribute to is arthritis later on in life.

The final area that I would like to bring to your attention, I am going to ask in a question? Would you like your running workouts to be easier??  Yes easier… studies have shown that those who do running warm up exercises before a work out find the work out easier than those who don’t (I personally think that one is a wow factor) I mean who on God’s green earth would not want an easier work out. I am not saying it would be as easy as say sitting in front of the television but you get want I am trying to say.

When I very first started running I will be honest with you ….wait for it I didn’t warm up. Then all the muscles in my legs would be tight and this would take a few days, sometimes a week to heal. I would then start running again once I was fully healed. However when I started putting a warm up in my routine I could run more often because my running muscles where ready and stretched.

Now we have established why we warm up I want to discuss with you the warm up itself!

There is no magic formula for warm up drills there are quite a few different exercises out there, you will need to choose a warm up plan that suits your own fitness level.

Here is James’ top tip!

Before you start any sort of running or any type of exercise please discuss this with your doctor

The warm up itself should take 5-10 minutes and mostly comprise of dynamic stretches, these are what I use and I find them most effective before my runs.

A dynamic stretch is a stretch that uses momentum and muscle effort, with no end position held to warm up the targeted area.

Some examples of dynamic exercises are legs swings, squats and this one made me laugh when i first saw it, type in fire hydrant exercise into YouTube and you will know what I mean.

If you wish to add in some sort of light run or jog this is fine, however you can get your heart beat raised with stretches so this is why I just stick to the stretches to save a job.

There are lots of warm up exercises for running on the internet and I find YouTube very useful as I can do the exercises while watching, just until you get the hang of it tho, as I think you should be concentrating on your form rather than your mobile or TV screen. If you are any thing like me….

The exercises can be done indoors or outside as long as you have enough room. Also a towel or yoga mat may come in handy because some of the exercises will need to be done on the floor depending on what you choose.

Final Thoughts

I know that when we are passionate about some thing, we want to dive straight in, I am the same myself but we have to look at the bigger picture and take care of our bodies, so that we can get the most out of our runs. So what ever happens DON’T BE LAZY for the sake of 5- 10 minutes to make your runs of fantastic quality and lower chance of injury.

What do think about warm ups, please leave a comment below.


24 thoughts on “Running Warm Up Exercises”

  1. James Very interesting and some helpful reminders. I find You tube videos useful for finding new and interesting exercises. Be good to post some of your favourites here. Thanks again, Keith

  2. Great notes on warming up. I always remember when I played soccer as a kid we would do a light jog before playing and usually some stretching. Our coach told us it would help reduce the likelihood of overextending or tearing a muscle. Glad to see we are seeing more confirmation on this.

    Do you have any recommendations on whether or not we should stretch right after or during our exercise? I have seen mixed opinions on this topic and am curious on your thoughts.

    1. Thanks for your comments Craig, All I will say is watch this space as I am planning on doing An article on cooling down soon.

  3. Hi James,

    I agree on warm up before going for a jog or run, I too at one time didn’t warm up.
    As you get older, warming up before exercise is more important. We all have our own way of doing a warm up exercise, mine was stretch and bunny jump exercises.
    It is very important when road running you also have the correct trainers to wear, with exercise and then going for a jog or run should be a happy experience.
    Your post is well explained and should help and remind people how to run safely.


  4. I would agree with you that dong dynamic stretches before a run is best rather than doing static stretches where you hold a stretch for 30 seconds or so.

    I will do some leg raisers and leg kicks as well as doing a short walk for a few minutes to where I start my run, all up, that would take me about five minutes.

    When I start, I would jog lightly for the first few hundred metres before I get into my running pace, so I find that this works well for me as I haven’t had any injuries from running.

    1. Thanks for the comments Adrian My post is about my experience but i do love to here how other people do things as well.

  5. Hello and thanks for sharing, exercising is great because it offers so much benefits to our bodies. But what we should know and as you pointed out is to have a warm up session before getting into any kind of workout because what can happen is if the body does not warm up then injury may take place. Your post offers good advice.

    1. Thanks for the positive feedback Norman i relay appreciate it, You are so right the warm it is so important to us all.

  6. I always do some dynamic stretches before any workout, whether it be weight training, going on a jog or playing football, I just feel better once I’ve done like everything can move a little bit better. I have really tight hamstrings, because I play football, so they need to be just about every time I plan on training or using them during a workout.

    I also use resistance bands for a few exercises for my shoulders, I’m too sure why but I feel like I’m getting more flexible since I started using them. Do you know of any stretches I could use with the bands that would work other than my shoulders?

    1. Thanks for the comments Lyle it is always nice to here what other people do for exercise, as with regards to your question I think I will do an article round ristance bands thanks for a fab idea!

  7. Hi,
    Something i never did know that you should warm up before running.
    I hate running but would love to know how i could enjoy it? as i really want to start, i get really worried when i have run before( a long time ago) as obviously your heart beats faster, i do worry that i might have a heart attack as it goes really fast or am i doing to much? can you do to much?any advise would be great 🙂
    Also do you have to warm down afterwards?
    So glad i have found this post THANKS 🙂

  8. If you are just starting out again i would say start slow and build up from there, I started off by running for a bit then running for a bit. Your hart will beat faster than normal tho with any exercise you do that is all normal. I would check first with your doctor just to give your body a MOT and make sure your body is in well enough condition for running. As for the cool down that is well advised after running. If you have a look on the net or youtube there are lots of cool down exercises for after running. I will do a future article tho on running cool downs.

    Thanks for the comments

    James 🙂

  9. I think it’s true that we should do some warm up before doing exercise. we prepare our body by doing warm up. I used to feel the same condition like you when I run without doing warm up. My legs feel stiff and pain, and it las for 3 days or more. But now I know the important about warm up. Thank for the reminder.

    1. Also to help with the aid of recovery you could also try some sort of recovery shake or bar, thanks for the comment.

  10. Thanks for the useful tips! I always experience shin splints when I go running which has sadly made me stop doing it for the most part. When I used to go running a lot I would usually only stretch after my workout, so maybe I needed a better warmup.

  11. Hello James

    I would like to start running for fitness sake and weight loss, I am 52 years of age and about 15kgs overweight, what is the recommended distance for me to start at, or should it be a timed event until I reach higher fitness levels, your input will be appreciated.

    All the best

    1. Start with walking and build up start say from 10 minutes and work up from there. Go slow and stead to start then when you feel ready start to up it. Also there are lots of apps for apple and android that will help you on your like couch to 5k. Thanks for the comments.

  12. Warming up turns out to be more important than I thought. Does it make a difference if you live in a cold climate? If I were running outside, would it be appropriate to warm up indoors, before the run? Should I wear the same clothing for my warm up as I would be wearing for my run, or does it matter?

    1. Its does not matter weather you warm upn in doors or out. Just as long as you have somen room. Also you can wear the the same clothing just make sure it is right for you in terms of weather conditions. Thanks for the comments.

  13. Warming up before a run is crucial to your muscles and body, it’s like a car load of China plates if you go running without doing so, you have to take it easy or something will get broken or damaged.
    Taking into account if you go early in the morning after just waking up your body has been relaxed for so many hours you need your muscles toward up or they won’t work properly (like me without my morning coffee)
    Some great information here great job!

    1. Thanks Matthew for the analogy and your great scene of humour. People take things for granted “I am fine thanks I don’t need to warm up” be smart and run better.

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