Before you starting running your heart out, here are 5 warm-up exercises for runners. You do not want to end up rolling around on the ground with cramped muscles or collapsing from pain. It is a good idea to prepare your body for running by stretching and warming-up your muscles.
- Stretch your quads. Okay, we have all seen the track stars in the Olympics do these. For those with great balance, you do not need to hold on to something. For those who are balance-impaired, grab a chair or stand next to a wall. Steady yourself by putting one hand on the object of your affection, and with the other hand reach behind you. Grab your ankle or foot and gently pull your leg toward your bottom. Make sure you keep your balance and that your back is straight. That means no hunching over. Hold this position for a few seconds and then switch legs. Do this for a minute or so until you feel like your legs are loosening up. Warning: do not pull your leg too hard or you could tear something. Worse yet, you could overstretch your quad. This is one of our best 5 warm-up exercises.
- Stretch your hamstrings. Guys, we are not talking about pork. Your hamstrings are the muscles that run from just below the knee up into the buttocks. In other words, the muscles in the back of your thighs. Grab a mat to lie on to do this warm-up exercise. Next lie with your body flat. Reach down with both arms and lift one leg. Your head should be still on the mat, unless you absolutely need to lift it. Bring your leg up, comfortably, toward your chest. You do not have to flatten you chest with your leg, just enough to feel the muscle stretch. Hold the position for a few seconds, slowly lower your leg and relax for a second. Repeat with the other leg.
- Do lunges. Now that you are all stretched out of whack, you can bring up your heart rate up a little. Lunges can be easily done and you only need to do a few on each leg. Great for low-impact cardio and strength training. Stand with your legs together, hands to your side. Start with either leg. Slowly lunge forward on your leg with your arms moving forward at the same time. Move back into place. Repeat with the other leg. Not hard at all, although it does take a little balancing to keep from falling on your face.
- March in place. Simply march in place for about two minutes. No, there is nothing more to add.
- Jump rope. Grab a jump rope and jump for a few minutes. No need to get fancy about it or do acrobatics to impress the ladies. Just simply do this as a warm-up and you will be ready to run.
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