Warming up before running

A warm-up program is an integral part of a running training and should not be neglected or discontinued. The warm-up prepares the body and also the mind for an upcoming strain, be it training or competition. There are numerous methods and techniques for warm-up programs, but the intensity and duration of the warm-up always depends on the athlete’s personal condition and the sport itself.

During the warm-up, the muscles start working and thereby increase the body temperature to between 38.5 and 39° Celsius. This increase in temperature favours the blood circulation and thus boosts the circulation. In addition, the tension and mobility of tendons, ligaments and muscles are increased, as blood circulation is improved. Furthermore, injuries and muscle cramps are prevented by a good warm-up programme.

Role of the warm-up

The increased temperature means that the athlete can perform more physically and mentally, because the metabolic processes run better at a slightly increased temperature and become more effective. In the musculature, the supply of the required energy improves and there is less friction between muscles, ligaments and tendons. In addition, the blood circulation is increased, which means that the nutrients can be transported better and in greater numbers into the muscle cells.

The increase in temperature also has positive effects on the joints. The production of synovial fluid is stimulated and the cartilage increases in mass. In the psychological aspects, it can lead to increased motivation and the reduction of existing tension.

Things to consider

Not every sporting movement can be regarded as a warm-up. There are a few things to keep in mind. For one thing, a warm-up is not a training session, because during a workout the muscles may be strained to the point of exhaustion.

The warm-up merely prepares the muscles and the whole body for training. It should also be assumed that not every warm-up exercise has the same effect. Rather, you should select your exercises so that they fit your own body constitution and fitness level.

Too heavy and complex exercises should be avoided, because a typical warm-up effect cannot be achieved by doing them incorrectly. Stretching, for example, should either not be done at all before a running session, or only under the guidance of an expert, as counterproductive effects can quickly occur. Stretching before a run can lead to a reduction in muscle tone, making the runner slower and more prone to injury.

Duration of a warm-up programme

The duration of a warm-up program depends on various factors and cannot be answered directly. Factors such as age, gender, type of sport, fitness level and previous experience play an important role in the selection of exercises for a warm-up programme. As a tendency one can say that the faster the movements (sprint) are and the higher the performance level, the longer the warm-up should last, so that the body gets to the right temperature and is optimally prepared for the upcoming load.