Cold temperatures = cold muscles. Running, cycling or swimming during winter brings many challenges. The main challenge is getting your body warmed up, adjusted to the temperature and ready to train at effort. Warm up exercises are needed for a hard effort or session regardless of the weather, but even more so when it’s cold out there. Here are my top 5 winter warm up exercises to add to your routine
1. Thoracic spine rotation
The thoracic spine is made for mobility. It is important for achieving good posture to ensure you don’t get pain from poor posture and is essential for most sporting activities. Warming up this area will help with your form, holding yourself upright and stable and preventing back injuries.
2. Calf raises
Standing calf raises activate the two muscles that run down the back of the lower leg - the gastrocnemius and soleus. Building your calf muscles contribute to overall stability and reduces stress on the Achilles tendon. Adding calf raises to your routine will not only warm up your calves and the muscles and ligaments of your ankles and feet, but will also stretch out your plantar fascia and prepare it to take on the forces of your running stride.
3. Hip flexor openers
When your hips are tight, they increase the load on the back and cause overuse of the spine. The main culprit or hip flexor tightness is sitting at your desk for long periods of time which shortens and tightens the hip flexors. By releasing them you will notice an improved range of motion, circulation and decreased back pain. Opening the hips can create an energetic shift or release. You can open your hips by performing a variety of hip flexor stretches and exercises. These will help relieve tension and strengthen your hip muscles
4. Walking Lunges
Walking lunges are a variation of the static lunge exercise. Instead of standing back upright after performing a lunge on one leg, instead you “walk” forward by lunging out with the other leg. Walking lunges strengthen the leg muscles as well as the core, hips, and glutes.
Strides are a running drill that you run for short bursts with an exaggerated running form. You would start off in an easy jog and increase your speed until you feel like you’re exaggerating your form. It should feel fast but not flat out. Strides are normally run over 50-80m. Runners do strides at the end of a warm up to help prepare for a race or speed session and get their body acquainted with maintaining their form at a higher speed.
I hope you’ve found these useful and perhaps you already include some of these in your warm up routine. Be sure to check out and subscribe to the Stomp The Pedal YouTube channel where you’ll soon find warm up routines, stretching, coaching advice and much, much more over the coming months. The channel is being built with a library of videos and these things take time, much like your winter warm up exercises should too!