Proper Cold Weather Warm-Up

Warming up before a run becomes important as the weather gets colder

Something that is as hard to write as it is to read: colder weather is coming soon. If you're looking to get out and run this winter in the cold and snow there are some important measures worth taking, and that definitely needs to include a proper warm-up before you head out.

Why Warm-Up?

Warming up is just as important as any part of your exercise routine because this is a time to activate and quite literally warm up muscles, tendons and joints for the stress and impact they are about to receive. This is particularly true during the winter because running or working out with cold, stiff muscles leaves you much more vulnerable for injury.

The hamstrings, quadriceps and calves are especially important to get ready as they are major muscle groups used when running. On top of the muscles themselves, they connect to important tendons and ligaments that keep us springing forward. Warming up muscles will in turn help to loosen these tendons and ligaments that are essential to running and greatly lower risk for injury.

Prepare Your Body for the Elements

With the colder months ahead it will take a bit longer for your body to warm up and limber up during your run or workout. Dynamic stretching should always be your choice over static stretching. The reason to go with dynamic over static stretching is that static stretching puts much more stress and tension on cold, stiff muscles, so it's vital to try light movements instead of holding a stretch for an extended period of time.


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Stretch and Move

Some dynamic stretching exercises to consider before your cold weather run:

  • Lunges: 10–12 lunges on each side.
  • Lateral Lunges: 10 on each side. Be sure to keep your lead knee over your foot to stay in alignment.
  • Squats: 15-20 squats at a slow, controlled effort.
  • Push-ups: 10-15 push ups to help the upper bottom and back loosen up.
  • Jumping Jacks: 60 seconds at a slow pace.
  • Butt Kicks: 60 seconds with low speed.
  • High Knees: 60 seconds worth.
  • Lateral Leg Swings: 20 on each side (find a fence of post to support yourself and while facing straight ahead, swing one leg from side to side).

These exercises will help you to properly warm up the essential muscles groups from your feet to your upper back, and steel yourself against that winter outdoor run. It's gonna be cold out there!

Remember to properly cool down using static stretching after your run. 


While you're at it, check out Abbey D'Agostoino's 8 Tips to Conquer Winter Running.

Timothy Kelly is a Cleveland, Ohio, native. After a decorated career in cross country and track at University of Mount Union, Tim has gone on to manage a local running shop in his hometown, called 2nd Sole Rocky River. He runs the floor, handles social media/community outreach and coaches a run group through the store that consists of over 400 local runners of all levels and abilities. Tim has run seven marathons.


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