Have you ever gone out for a run and felt your body get tighter and stiffer? Your knees, back, feet and everything hurts more as you pound the pavement. Your chest is ready to explode because you forgot to breathe. You try to maintain your good running form, but you just can’t stop focusing on that ankle that keeps locking up on you.

You need more than just the basic warm up

I consider myself a reasonably new runner, but an educated one. I’m a Pilates instructor and have naturally researched the best techniques to run effectively. I work with clients who run, who are recovering from injury and simply move to maintain a great quality of life. On a daily basis, I prepare bodies to do physically challenging movements and activities. I have a good knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics and personally feel you shouldn’t strain your body in movement, you should gradually build you ability to do a new activity.

When I first started running, I felt terrible. After a couple weeks, my body didn’t get used to running, it actually felt worse. When I really paid attention, I realized I needed more than the typical warm up that’s recommended in most running literature.

Why the typical warm up isn’t enough

If starting your run with a typical runners’ warm up (or no warm up at all) makes you feel stiffer and tighter in your body, then you probably need a bit more assistance.

Your body is trying to protect itself by tightening up. But in the mean time, it causes you discomfort and can also affect your running technique.

In my case, my left ankle would keep seizing up when I hopped or jumped on it. My hips would then tighten, my back followed and I eventually would stiffen right up to my neck. I’d try shaking it off, but by then it was too late.

Mechanically, many of the hopping, shuffling and galloping movements suggested to runners make sense. However, based on my personal experience running and working with clients who run, I feel you need a little more before this can be effective.

A pre-warm up that worked

I played around with a few exercises and warm up techniques I learned at Body Harmonics. Some were more successful than others.

Often Pilates is done on the floor. When I was getting ready to go for a run, I found this demotivating… and some days I just want to keep laying there instead of getting up and going out. Also, if I was in a public venue, I couldn’t always do exercises on the floor very easily.

So today I’ll share a dynamic standing sequence that you can do anywhere, barefoot or in your running shoes. I consider this my pre-warm up and refer to it as a total body wake up.

The goal is to move and build support in your spine, hips, ankles and shoulders. It’ll help you move with more ease and breathe better during your run and set you up for success and optimal mechanics as you continue.

Standing total body wake up for runners

Leg swing – R – 16x

Squats (hands on waist) – 4x

Leg swing – L – 16x

Squats (hands on waist) – 4x

Roll down (keep knees soft) – 4x

Upper torso circles – 2x each direction

Tick tock – hands down to hips – 4x

Tick tock + leg kick back – 4x

Tick tock + leg kick side – 4x

Tick tock + leg kick back – 4x

Standing saw – 4x

Standing saw + squat + cross arm reach – 4x

Standing saw – 4x

Standing saw + squat + cross arm reach – 4x

Calf pump R + hands on waist – 8x

Calf pump R + arms behind head – 8x

Calf pump R + torso leaning forward + arms in V – 8x

Large arm swing side to side through wide squat – 4x

Calf pump L + hands on waist – 8x

Calf pump L + arms behind head – 8x

Calf pump L + torso leaning forward + arms in V – 8x

Large arm swing side to side though wide squat – 4

Roll down (keep knees soft) – 4x

Squat with arms behind head – 4x

Calf raises – 8x

Swing and release – 4x

Swing and release + calf raise – 4x

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Author: Larisa Makuch

Larisa Makuch Pilates Larisa Makuch is a Pilates & Movement teacher, teacher trainer and ELDOA instructor. She draws on her experiences to create innovative teaching and business strategies. Larisa has a Body Harmonics Comprehensive Pilates diploma, several Specialist diplomas and a BA.

“For me it’s all about helping people move better, feel better and build their confidence each and every day. I especially enjoy those ‘aha’ moments when clients and colleagues make discoveries that translate into more freedom, more joy and less pain in their lives.”