The New Warm-Up That Professional Runners Are Raving About
Running is high-impact, often resulting in aches and asymmetry in the body. That’s why a form-focused warm up that addresses alignment and total body strength is crucial.
It’s a known truth of running: Rarely do we want to warm up or cool down. Double digit mileage is enough of a time commitment in itself and figuring out what the right precursors to movement are (or which exercises are best positioned post-workout work) can feel like work.
The traditional staple of these workouts always seems to be the same: stretching.
“For as long as I can remember, there have been two schools of thought about what we all call ‘stretching,'” says Pete Egoscue, co-founder of Elev8d Fitness.
One school teaches that athletes must stretch before movement to warm up the muscles; the other, that static stretching is ineffective (at best) and potentially harmful at worst.
Static stretching typically means holding in a stretched position for a certain length of time. Think: frog legs, static hamstring stretches, the splits. But static stretching isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Research says this traditional form of stretching could actually impede performance, sinking runners’ speed, lowering jumpers’ peak heights, and impacting weight lifters’ max weight.
Dynamic stretching—stretches with movement like inchworms or lunges—can actually improve performance and range of motion by activating and engaging core muscles groups—turning the muscles on, so to speak.
How it works
We all use the word stretch, but muscles don’t actually stretch. explains Egoscue. Consider your body’s anatomy. “Muscles don’t get longer or shorter as it relates to where they’re attached,” Egoscue says. “They have a memory of how much to contract and how much to lengthen.”
This process works via receptors in the muscles called spindles. “The spindles tell the muscle fiber how far they can lengthen or shorten,” Egoscue says.
So, a reason for why someone’s hamstrings are always tight despite a consistent stretching routine might be that when you’re not stretching, your spindles have already learned that your joints aren’t going through their full ranges of motion, he explains.
“The point of a warm up is to allow those spindles to remind themselves of their full job and full range of the spindle from tendon to tendon so that you get efficiency of joint mobility.”
With that, you’ll be able to find your best stride, perform at your peak, and feel more at ease during your run.
Relearning to Stretch
And that’s where Elev8d comes in. Based on the body’s eight core movements, and working both joints and muscles from head to toe through their full ranges of motion, you’ll complete a set of (fun) and effective moves that re-teaches your body what it naturally knows.
“Elev8d combines the effects of different types of workouts that I used to do, really hitting a sweet spot,” says Jeff Yorke, a runner and manager of NRG Sports Group. “I’m spending a fraction of the time and getting all of the benefits.”
After all, Elev8d’s exercise sequences will take you less than 20 minutes—and sometimes less than 10—and everything you need to do is already planned out.
“When I was running full-time, I had all the time in the world to do as many workouts or exercises as I wanted, and could target different areas every day. There was no real need for my routine to be streamlined or efficient,” adds Janet Cherobon-Bawcom, a former Olympic distance runner. “Now that I am working full-time and have a limited time to lay out my routine each day, the curated content from Elev8d has been really helpful and keeps me on track each day without the wasted time.”
She adds: “I don’t have to pick and choose from a list and decide my target area for the day.”
All of a sudden, those few extra minutes before you go actually don’t seem so dreaded.