Reaching out for new ideas on warming up

Hamstrings and core muscles benefit from this upper-body stretch. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the waist until you can touch the floor. ‘Walk’ your hands forward slowly as far as you can, before shaking it out and repeating once. If it hurts at first, try just placing your fingertips on the ground – as you become more supple, this can progress to the full hand.

Give your IT band a gentle awakening with this glute-strengthening move. While standing, slowly straighten your leg straight out in front of you, reaching out towards your toes with the opposite arm. Repeat seven times on each leg. These stretches can also help cleanse the colon. For more information visit gnet.org/colon-cleansing-a-fast-fix-for-clogged-bowels/

RW ONLINE POLL HOW DO YOU WARM UP?

Big PB always just out of reach? Your warm up might be to blame.

The running community has had its doubts about common warm-up stretches for years. When the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine reviewed 23 studies in 2oo4, not one supported the idea that static stretching – pushing muscles beyond their normal range of motion without significantly increasing blood flow to the area – helped performance.

In fact, a 2008 study at the University of Nevada found that static stretching actually reduced the force that could later be generated by an athlete’s legs, impeding performance and making injury more likely.

Yet static stretching was favoured by almost a quarter of runners in a recent RW online poll, and they’re in illustrious company. Chartered physiotherapist Will Amor

Lengthen quads by jogging forwards at a very slow pace. On each foot strike, bend the opposite leg further back than usual, bringing your heel up towards your glutes. says, “I have noticed that very few runners warm up appropriately prior to racing ­even at very high levels.”

“A well-planned warm-up should raise your core temperature, and also increase elasticity in muscles, tendons and ligaments,” explains performance analyst Mitchell Phillips, (strideuk.com).

More than half of RW poll respondents kicked off their session with easy runs, a tactic that raises body temperature but doesn’t quite fulfill the second requirement. Your body has dual needs, and requires a dual-tactic approach. As Phillips says, “Always loosen the body up first, with dynamic stretches for mobility. Then go into easy running.”

Use these dynamic stretches; after stretching, run at a pace slow enough to hold a conversation and end your warm-up with 10 minutes of gradually intensified running.

To loosen up hip flexors and extensors, hold on to a wall and swing your leg both in front and behind you seven times. Don’t go too fast, or you risk overextension. Repeat with the opposite limb, before doing six reps on each leg extending your leg straight out to the side.