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Warming up

Answered By Larson Rett

Question

I'm not sure I'm warming up the right way. Any suggestions?

Answer

The most important part of the warm-up is the “warm” part. Getting your body temperature up will help prevent injury better than any amount of stretching. Instead of jogging, switch to jumping rope. It’s more of a total body exercise and does a better job of waking-up your neuromuscular system. Plus, it’s far more challenging and will start to work on your cardiovascular strength. Next we have to divorce you from old-school reach-and-hold stretching. When you touch your toes for a long 10-second stretch, you actually start reducing the amount of spring that you can get out of those stretched muscles. When a muscle gets stretched, it sends a message to your brain asking for a big contraction – to prevent it from tearing. When you deny this “stretch reflex” by continuing to stretch, the muscle gives up. Without your stretch reflex, you can’t jump as high or run as fast. Frog Thrusts with Jump These develop hip mobility, which will help you accelerate and sustain your top speed more efficiently. Start in the push-up position with you hands placed directly under your shoulders. In one quick movement, jump both of your feet up to your hands so that your instep is right beside your pinkie. Press your hips down and you heels into the floor, keeping your chest and head tall. Explode upward from this position and try to land back in the frog stance. Jump your legs back to push-up position and repeat 8 times. Crawling Elbow to Instep Sprinters have notoriously tight hip flexors, which keep them from running fast. Here’s a great stretch to keep them loose and winning races. Begin in push-up position. In one aggressive motion, swing your right foot up until it is just outside your right pinkie and flat on the ground. I want you to keep your back leg straight and hips down. Now, drop your right elbow down into the instep of your shoe. You can put your other hand on the ground for support to help you get a deeper stretch. Pause for one second, and then crawl forward until you’re in push-up position again. Repeat with the other leg, alternating 5 times on each as you crawl down the court. Lateral to Crossover Lunge Instead of traditional squats, I like lunges because they’re more of a single-leg stretch, and because runners spend lots of time pushing off of one leg. Start with a big lunge-step to the left, shifting all of your weight into the heel of your left foot. Drop your hips into a deep lunge making sure that your back is straight, toes are pointed forward and your bent knee is directly over your foot. Hold for one second, then push off of your left heel and cross that foot over and in front of your right leg. Your right knee should duck nicely behind your left ankle. Pause for another second and repeat, 5 times on your left, then 5 times on your right. Straight Leg Skip The most useless athlete on your team is the injured one, and pulled hamstrings have rendered many good runners useless. Here’s how we get them ready for the demands of the race. Start with an easy straight legs march – chest tall, legs super-straight and ankles cocked. Begin marching, and when you get comfortable, take that march to a skip. Try to kick your legs higher and higher with each skip. Skipping makes the stretch a bit tougher from a fitness standpoint and also requires more coordination.

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