Close Close
Close Close

A good warm-up

Is a warm-up really necessary? Wouldn’t it be better to save your energy and give it your all in training or competition? ‘No, definitely not’, says medical expert and sports doctor Mirjam Steunebrink. ‘Just do the warm-up, because you’ll be doing your body a big favour.’

Why is a warm-up necessary?

With a warm-up, you prepare your body for the effort that is to come. Your heart rate increases gradually and your heart pumps harder. This causes the blood to flow faster through your blood vessels and gets oxygen to your muscles. Muscles well-supplied with blood, with more oxygen, perform better and are less vulnerable to injuries. In addition, the airways widen and the body temperature increases. The brain also receives the signal that an effort is coming and that it has to work at a different level. Your body prepares itself for exercise which helps to prevent injuries.

How intensive? 

A good warm-up is not tiring. It really is just a warm-up. If you are just starting out, a few minutes of running in place to get your heart rate up and some stretching is a good start. But do you really want to do it right? If so, then also do stretching exercises, active exercises, possibly a bit of running training and finish with a few sprints.

Please note!

The following applies to each exercise: are you unsure whether you’re doing it right? If so, look for an instructional video on the Internet, ask an experienced runner or even better: find a running group with professional trainers.

Rules of stretching

During stretching exercises you can feel whether your muscles are still stiff or tense. By adjusting your training accordingly, you will probably be able to prevent injuries.

  • Never stretch to the point of feeling pain. Of course you must feel ‘stretch’. This feeling will diminish after five to ten seconds, after which you can continue the exercise for five to ten seconds.
  • Make sure you do not cool down too much during the stretching exercises. Get out of the wind as much as possible and put on an extra layer if necessary.

Stretching exercises

  • Superficial calf muscles
    Placing your hand on a wall or some other form of support, take a step forward with your left leg. Keep your right leg stretched out with your right foot flat on the ground, pointing straight ahead. Push your hips forward and feel the tension in your calf.
  • Deep calf muscles
    Stand up, take a small step forward with your left foot and lean on your left leg. Keep your right foot flat on the ground and pointing straight ahead. Bend your right knee without lifting your right heel off the ground. Feel the tension that now develops (lower) in your calf.
  • Inner thigh muscles
    Stand with your legs spread and with your feet pointing straight ahead. Put your weight on your right leg, simultaneously bending your right knee and leave your left foot on the ground in the same place. Keep you upper body upright and feel the stretch on the inside of your left thigh.
  • Outer thigh muscles
    Stand on your left foot and cross your right foot diagonally behind the left leg on the ground. Bend your upper body and arms towards the ground and move slightly to the right.
  • Front of the thigh muscles
    Stand up straight with both legs together. Grab one ankle and pull it towards your bottom. Your knee bends and stretches the front of your thigh. Make sure you keep your hip extended and your knee straight to the ground.
  • Back of the thigh muscles
    Stand up straight and place your right leg on a raised surface. Grasp the lower right leg with both hands. While doing so, look up and keep the lower back straight. You will feel tension on the back of your thigh.

Active exercises

After you have finished doing the stretching exercises, it is a good idea to do some active exercises to get the muscles active. Do this in sets of fifteen to twenty repetitions. Some examples of these exercises are:

  • With your legs spread slightly, make broad rotating movements with your pelvis, both clockwise and anti-clockwise.
  • Make large lunges forward alternatingly with your left and right leg, while keeping the back leg on the ground.
  • Make small two-legged jumps, forwards, backwards and sideways.

Running form training

After these more general active exercises, you can move on to specific running form exercises:

  • Tap your bottom with the heels (of your shoes), or at least bring your heels in that direction. Your upper body is relaxed and bent slightly forward.
  • Alternate your feet from heel to toe, developing little forward speed (so-called “tripling”).
  • Do the same as in the exercise described above, but raise your knees until they are horizontal to the ground (so-called “skipping”).
  • Make small running jumps forward, increasing the speed, and then change to walking.

Acceleration runs

After the above exercises, carry out several (2 to 6) runs, starting slowly and increasing your speed towards the end. With each successive run, increase the speed you reach at the end.