5-Minute Winter Warm-Up for Runners

Warming up before a winter run is essential for preventing injury

When the temperature drops runners often find a corresponding decrease in motivation and an increase in injuries. Incorporate this five-minute warm up routine into your training to help maintain a solid a running base all winter long and successfully train your way into the Spring.

During a workout, up to 80 percent of blood volume is shifted to the active muscles. Warming up for 12-15 minutes helps the body transition from rest to action without creating stress on the organs or brain.

Dr. Phil Maffetone provides these more specific reasons why warming up prior to your winter run will result in better performance:

  • Greater efficiency of joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • Greater range of motion
  • Increased oxygen availability
  • Increased lung capacity
  • Release of stored fat for energy
  • Creates a routine for mental preparation

5-Minute Warm-Up Routine
While you’re still debating if you can handle a run in the cold, get dressed. For tips on how to dress for winter running click here.

Before you get started, set your GPS watch on a windowsill or outside on your porch to avoid time spent standing around outside. If you have the satellites turned on to remember your previous location it should connect, while you’re inside warming up.

Avoid all static stretching, which your muscles are not yet warmed enough for. Instead, increase circulation with the following series of dynamic movements:

  • Hip circles
  • Knee circles
  • Leg swings
  • Squats
  • Trunk rotations

Now that your muscles are warmed up, it’s time to get your heart pumping faster. Spend the next two minutes performing this sequence of fast-paced moves:

  • Jumping jacks
  • Front lunges
  • Side lunges
  • Squat jumps

Remember that it can take your body 4-6 weeks to adjust to new temperatures. This means a pace that felt easy in the Fall, could be dramatically harder during your first winter workout because cold temperatures restrict blood flow. Pushing yourself to hit a faster pace when your muscles feel tight can result in a pull or tear. Including this short warm up and then easing into your pace during the run will significantly reduce chances of injury and frustration.