Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jumping Jacks? Seriously?!

Yes, seriously.

Though I find it hard to believe that I don't know everything, apparently it really is never too late to learn something new.

The new thing I've learned, thanks to our Back on My Feet team leaders, is that good old fashioned calisthenics are a great way to warm up for a run.

Again, yes, seriously. The same old calisthenics that our parents did in Phys. Ed. classes, way back in the olden times.

I used to stretch before a run, but I've found, and subsequently read, that stretching after a run, when your muscles are all warm and supple, builds better flexibility. Further, stretching before a run not only doesn't really warm your muscles very much, but can also, once you start running, put your legs through a greater range of motion than they are really ready for.

So then I did, well, nothing before a run. This usually resulted in groans, and visions of hamstrings and Achilles popping like old banjo strings.

Then, a few weeks ago, I started running with the BOMF group. I'll admit, when we circled up and our leader said, "Ok, 25 jumping jacks. Ready... begin... 1, 2..." I thought it was a practical joke. "This'll be great. Let's see if we can get the new guy to do jumping jacks." But they kept going... to 25. And then there was more. It seemed, frankly, ridiculous.

It wasn't until after my third or fourth BOMF run that I noticed I had no stiffness or soreness after the run.  After some trial and error, it became evident that the ridiculous warm up was the key.

Now, I do it before every run. Now I can tell you, it's easier to pull off jumping jacks and windmills in a group than by yourself. In a circle with team members, it's an activity. On your own in a parking lot, it's just odd.

Not being one to worry too much what other people think, I'm sticking with these.

Here's what we do.

25 Jumping jacks

20 Trunk Twists

20 Windmills
(I used to get nauseous doing this in gym as a kid.)

20 High Knees
(Be sure not to lean back on these.)

20 heal kicks
(Ideally, your heal kicks your booty.)

This whole routine takes just a couple of minutes.

Release your inner Jack LaLanne,* and give it a try before your next run. And let me know how it goes.

Good running,

*Give this video a couple of minutes and tell me the organ accompaniment isn't awesome. Warning, his shoes, or slippers, or whatever they are, might creep you out just the slightest bit.

Images from here,  here, here, here, and here.