Thanksgiving is coming and that means two things: turkey and football! Some people like lying around after the big meal to watch the game. Others like to push through that food coma by going running. If the second type sounds like you, it’s important to make sure you warm up before exercising. Too many injuries happen because your muscles are cold.

People often associate a warmup with a boring, non-essential part of the workout that they can simply skip over. There are so many reasons that this isn’t true. First of all, warming up can be a lot of fun and not just a tedious activity that leads up to the main event. There are a multitude of reasons why we need to warm up. It helps us avoid injuries to our muscles, tendons, bones, and joints. Additionally, it helps raise our heart rate at a nice pace and gets us into a good rhythm for long-distance running.

There is a three step method to a good warm up. First, walk at a steady pace for about 3 to 5 minutes. This will loosen up all your joints and muscles and get your body into “work out mode.” Next, add in strides. This is when you jog in one direction and increase your speed at the same time. Afterwards you should shake out your legs to get more and more of the blood flowing to your feet.

Lastly, you should do some stretching, but not the kind that you think! Static stretches are for cooling down whereas dynamic stretches are for warming up. Skipping, jumping jacks, jogging backwards, butt kicks, and side shuffling are just a few of the many ways you can stretch your muscles. When you’ve completed your warmup, you can move on to the actual run. You’ve earned it!

For more information about running safety, call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment in our North Andover, MA, office.