FEELING GREAT: Are you doing more harm than good?

Paul Gough
Paul Gough

Whether you’re a jogger, a power walker or even a bike rider, as the nights get lighter, it’s not unusual for you to experience a sudden increase in your desire to be more active.

It’s as much to do with the surge in the amount of vitamin D you’re getting from this extra sun light, as it the motivation from seeing people take part in things like early summer fun runs.

Enthusiasm is infectious, so too the effect of seeing somebody else being active. And what you often get at the start line of fun runs, such as the recent Hartlepool Marina 5 Mile road race, as well as enthusiasm, is a desire to do things right. To prepare properly for the race ahead in order to give it your best shot at winning or achieving a new personal best. And in order to do this, most people agree that you have to warm up properly.

The problem with warming up, is that there is so much advice available to you, that it’s very difficult to know which one to take. So inevitably what happens is that you see another runner doing something, and so it’s inevitable to want to copy.

Here’s the problem. Most people forget that a warm up involves just that - actually getting muscles warm before you begin to do anything like stretching. How many times have you done, or seen somebody who’s about to go for run, step out of their house and find the nearest car or wall to lean up against and then beginning to stretch?

I watched it happen many times on the morning of the Marina 5 mile run, with runners dangerously stretching cold muscles. If you’re wanting to warm up properly to reduce injury, you need to be doing something as simple as jogging on the spot for 7-8 minutes. The aim is to get the blood flowing to muscles, enough so that there is colour change in your cheeks, before you begin to stretch your muscles. Only at this point its safe to stretch. If not you’re doing your self more harm than good.

And one more thing, It’s really important not to statically stretch your muscles. That’s the old fashioned way of holding the muscle in a position for 10-15 seconds. It’s important to first make sure you’re warm, and then stretch your muscles while you’re on the move. Its called dynamic stretching. Google it and find specific exercises for your sport. But the 7-8 minute rule applies to all sports be it football, running, cricket or even power walking and bike riding.