Running Warm-Ups…..Why and What

With the London Marathon coming up this weekend, the SMP team focus on the warm-up. There’s a lot of information out there about whether a warm up is necessary, if stretching is detrimental, how long you should warm up for and what to include. So here’s the best current advice to get you started but remember, if you’re in doubt or recovering from injury always consult a physio before changing anything around your exercise regime.


The jury is out as to whether warming up prevents injury but it is undoubtedly an important aspect of
training and racing and there are a number of beneficial reasons from preparing the body to enhancing performance:

• Prepares your cardiovascular system: blood vessels will open up allowing more blood to flow round the system warming and supplying the major muscles and organs with an adequate oxygen supply.
• prepares muscles ligaments tendons and tissues: Muscles , ligaments and tendons become more elastic as they’re taken through their full range of motion, thereby improving your flexibility for the session ahead. It also rehearses your body and joints for the specific movements required for training or racing.
• Improves mental focus and prepares your mind for physical stress: It helps you start to focus on the session or race ahead allowing your brain to forget the stressful day you have just had and concentrate on the up coming exercises.
• Prepares you for extreme environments such as the cold or the heat. It allows you to gently thermoregulate your body to the environment whether that be the extreme cold or the heat.


• General warm up, mobilisation and gradually raising the Pulse: KEY IS TO START SLOWLY to gently
raise the pulse. This might consist of starting your run making sure the first 5-10 mins is a progressive jog into a run so that by the end of the 10 minutes you have gradually taken up your pace to the pace you would like to complete the session. On a 5 km timed tempo run don’t start the stopwatch until after you have completed your warm up pulse raiser.
• Dynamic stretching – Dynamic stretching is simply taking the muscles and joints dynamically through a range of movement you require for your activity BUT IT IS NOT holding a stretch which is called static stretching. Ideally you would want to do the gentle warm up first and then perform your dynamic stretching routine. However, if you are running straight from home you may find you need to do a little dynamic stretching before the general warm up – (unless you want to stop middle of the street to start your dynamic warm up).

Dynamic Stretching Examples

Double or single leg Calf raise.

1 set 10 reps

Squat – keep knees behind toes. Send bottom back and down.

1 set 10 reps

Ankle mobility: feet flat on floor then gently fall forwards from the ankle. Don’t let the heels come up.

10 repetitions

Leg swings: Gently swing the leg out to the side and back in front of the body for 30 seconds then repeat but swinging the leg forwards and backwards.

Remember to stand tall and watch you DON’T let the back arch and flex or move side to side as you do the leg swings