Running is a popular activity among our Travaasa health spa visitors and a favorite of things to do in the Hill Country. Whether you are a competitive runner or just a joy jogger, warming up is crucial to prevent injury, increase endurance, and maximize the health benefits of your run. A good warm-up dilates your blood vessels to pump oxygen to the muscles and raises your internal temperature for prime flexibility. Gone are the days of static stretching, instead runners are encouraged to engage in light, dynamic core and aerobic exercises that warm up the body, strengthen the muscles, and increase range of motion. Whether you are preparing for a race or simply taking a jog around the health spa, these warm-up tips will get you in prime running condition.

1. Ankles, Feet & Calves

Warming up the ligaments in your ankles and feet as well as the calves will also stretch your plantar fascia, which is prone to injury in runners. The calf lift and stretch targets all of these areas. Face a wall or a large tree, stand three to four feet back, and place your hands against it. Lift one leg just off the ground and raise the other calf by coming all the way up onto your toes. Balance that position for two seconds. Release and push the heel of that foot into the ground with your toes up the wall or tree surface to get a calf stretch. Repeat ten times on each side.

2. Glute Burn

Firing up your glutes prior to a run is a crucial, yet overlooked, way to strengthen the body’s largest muscle and take pressure off your lower back and hamstrings. Our favorite way to engage the glutes pre-workout is via bridge pose.  Lie on your back and bend the knees to a 90 degree angle, keeping heels pressed down into the floor while pulling your toes upward. Use your glutes to raise the hips parallel to the ground so they form a straight line with your knees and shoulders. Hold this posture for two seconds. Release and repeat 10 times.

3. Core

Crunches may be a dated exercise of our dad’s track team, but core exercises will improve your form and endurance while keeping fatigue at bay.  The modified bicycle is a dynamic way to strengthen the core. Lying on your back, lift one leg and bend the knee at a 90 degree angle so that  your thigh is perpendicular to the floor and your shin is parallel to the floor.  Bring the other leg a couple inches off the ground  and hold for five seconds. Switch. Keep your lower back and hips pressed against the ground the entire time.

4. Knees

Begin to build heat and warm-up the locked knees. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and a micro-bend at the knees. Lower your glutes and dip your knees further, but not fully to a 90 degree angle, and quickly jump as high as possible. Land with knees bent and immediately spring again. Complete ten consecutive jumps. Rest for 30 seconds and repeat another two sets.

5. Dynamic Warm-Up

Now that you are feeling the heat it’s time to elevate the heart rate even higher. Maintaining a good posture with a long spine and shoulders pulling back and down, begin a forward march. Lift one knee at a time with the toes of the lifted foot pulled up toward your shin. With each step, hit the ground directly beneath you on your mid-foot. Pull your elbows back and hold them at 90 degrees throughout the entire march.

Now that you are warm and ready, enjoy your run – one of favorite things to do in the Hill Country!