The Outdoor Fitness Warm Up
Warm ups do more than just warm up your muscles!
Every workout begins with a 5-10 minute warm up. A warm-up is your time to limber up your body--and your mind--in preparation for the workout to come. A warm up can be a simple as a walk or a jog. Outdoor Fitness warm-ups combine breathing and posture exercises with joint lubrication exercises, followed by a walk, building to a slow jog.
Steps to Warming Up (Video Below)
1. Joint Lubrication
Starting with your lower body and moving upward, this series of gentle exercises will loosen your joints, releasing stiffness and tension. Standing on one leg, extend the other leg forward and circle your ankle to the right and then to the left. Take your time and use your full range of motion. Repeat the rotations twice more in each direction. Now do the other ankle. Moving upward to your knees, hips, wrists, elbows and shoulders, move each joint through its range of motion three times.
Tip: When ever you put a joint through its natural range of motion a natural lubrication called synovial fluid enters that joint.
2. Reverse Breath
Position yourself in the Athletic Stance. Stand tall, allow your chest to open as you lift your ribs. Take a deep breath: an easy inhale followed by a slow exhale. Empty your lungs of air as you exhale completely—all the way out. Observe how your lungs expand to accommodate the air that rushes in to replenish the breath you’ve exhaled. Repeat with a second breath. Now reach both arms directly overhead, and take a few of the same deep, slow breaths from this position.
3. Posture Check
With your arms still overhead, lower your shoulders down, away from your ears, and open your chest by pulling your shoulder blades more closely together. Observe the change in your posture. Now lower your arms until they are stretching out to the side and directly in line with your shoulders. Bring your shoulder blades together, and feel you chest open as you take a couple more deep breaths. Slowly lower your arms to your sides.
4. High Knees
Next, let’s loosen your hips and engage your core with High Knees. This warm-up exercise will also get your heart pumping a little faster and ready to move into your workout..
• Starting Position: Take an athletic stance and set your posture: Engage your center of mass by lifting your ribs up and away from your hips, chest open, eyes forward and chin up. Keep your arms extended in front of you between chest and navel height.
• Action: Begin by marching in place. Lift your knees up and away in front your body, making contact with your hands and creating a reverse curl in the lower abdominal wall. Keep your hips even and square with your shoulders as you march. Feel your abdominal wall begin to engage. Extend height. Keep your ribs lifted as you continue to lift and lower your knees up to your hands, palms down, bringing your knees up to touch your palms.
• After about 20-30 seconds, begin to lift your knees more diagonally and out towards the sides for a count of 10. After 10, gradually bring your knees back to center and your original position. As you become stronger and more flexible, you can lift both your hands and your knees higher.
5. Cardio—Warm up
Cardio is often part of the Warm Up, helping you get your heart rate up and giving you time to get to know the terrain around you--especially what you encounter underfoot. For example, you might begin with a fast walk using your “high toes” technique (see below), creating awareness of everything in your path. Feel for those stray pebbles, twigs and cracks in the sidewalk, the dips and bumps in the road. Are you clearing rocks and roots that pop up on the trail smoothly and without tripping?
As you become more comfortable with the terrain, you may want to bump up your speed by pumping your arms to set the tempo of your feet. After a couple of minutes, you should be at an RPE of 4-5. Keep bumping up your pace gradually until you reach an RPE of 6-7 and continue for a few more minutes. As you reach your destination, you’ll want to walk it out for 30 seconds or so, bringing your RPE down to a 5 or 6.
At the end of your workout, I often suggest a cardio cool down before you do your stretching. This would be a slow jog or shuffle walk, gradually bringing your heart rate down after an intense workout.
Technique - Heel-toe Roll and “High Toes”
Two techniques that you should know right away are Heel-toe Roll and “High Toes.” When you use a heel-toe roll, you hit the ground heel first, roll through your foot to your toes, and use your toes to propel you forward. Imagine your feet rolling like the tires of a car. Your heel hits the ground first, then rolls through the entire foot to the toes. You propel forward from the toes. A great way to get the feeling for this is to imagine your feet to be like tires of a car, rolling over the terrain.
With “High toes,” you keep your toes up as your feet skim the ground to prevent tripping over obstacles in your path. Imagine that there is air running between your feet and the ground, you are just floating above the terrain.
Both these techniques help build kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness in your feet – and enable you to feel through your feet.