Warming up is something that to many people take for granted. I will often get ready to run and just go, so I’m guilty of it as well.
Warming up SHOULD be a regular part of any workout, or daily activity for that matter. Warming up can be done in any number of ways that you feel is adequate for your body’s musculoskeletal system. I say musculoskeletal because it is all connected. Take for example, tendinitis, it is an inflammation of the connective tissues that attach your muscles to your bones. If you don’t “fix” that problem it will escalate to a muscular problem, neither of which are good. Any and every tear, rip, or otherwise hurting pain from your activity is almost always a result of improper, training, technique, or poor warming of said muscle group. That is why warming up is so very important.
I guess the next thing is to explain a few exercises for warming up that I’ve tried and like enough to do them every time that I get ready to run. This one is very simple, stand with your feet a little more than shoulder width apart and cross your arms. Do these things very slowly and deliberately, first bend at the waist keeping your back straight and let your crossed arms hang as if your elbows could touch the ground for a ten count. This stretches your hamstrings, now reach over (slowly) to either side with both hands and hold your leg down as close to your ankle as you can and hold for a ten count. Now after pausing with arms crossed in the middle go over to the other side, once again hold for a ten count. After this go to the center with a short pause and slowly roll up bringing your feet to shoulder width.
Now squat down so that your rear is just over your heels with your arms outstretched forward. Just hang here and let your muscles relax and your back stretch. Slowly stand up and shake your whole body just to get loose. Now if you’re racing, take off and go for a quick slow paced run, not very far though. About a 10-12 minute pace, don’t kill yourself and get to sweating a whole bunch. This will help to get your muscles even warmer and you’ll be a lot more likely to succeed and hold a steadier pace.
Now when you’re done running you need to do the same exercises as you would do warming up. The only exception should be that as soon as you’re done DO NOT STOP MOVING! You will probably need to do a cool down walk, or a hot walk. Deep cleansing breaths with a normal walking stride for about 100 yards, away from your stoping point, then turn around and walk back. Now you’re ready to do the stretch down exercises. Just do the exact same ones mentioned before but slower.
This is my own personal, tried and true, ritual for warming up and cooling down. You can add to it, do other exercises, or even condense it down. But please, please do something on both ends of your workouts so as not to shock your muscles into submission. The end result will be painful at the least.