A proper Warm Up is perhaps the most important part of your workout!
Every workout should begin 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. My outdoor warm-ups combine breathing and posture exercises with joint lubrication exercises, followed by an environmental integration exercise I call “high toes”.
Getting Started—Lube your joints!
Before your warm-up, begin each exercise session with joint lubrication exercises, especially for the ankles, knees and hips. Move each segment throughout its full range-of-motion, about 3-5 times in each direction. When you move your joints through their range of motion, synovial fluid is pumped into the joint. This fluid nourishes the cartilage, lubricates the joint, and keeps the joint stable.
The 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, 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.
Heel-toe Roll and “High Toes”
Two techniques that I teach my clients right away are Heel-toe Roll and “High Toes.” When you walk, use a heel-toe roll, where 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.
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Both these techniques help build kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness in your feet – and enable you to feel through your feet.